Impaired Nursing

Nurses General Nursing


Does any one suspect they work with an impaired nurse? (Drug or Alcohol abuse) and have you confronted him/her?

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

Yep,, worked with a CNA one time who used to come to work still blowing off last nights "bowling". We all knew it was last nights bender, she used to stay out till 3 or 4AM and come to work at 7AM. It only took about 2 or 3 times of people complaining and the NM requested blood draw for alcohol level. She was gone didnt come back.

I dont do confrontation,, its not my job, however it is my job to report any suspected impairment or suspicion of diverted medication to the nurse manager and let them do whatever is necissary to find if someone is or isnt.


68 Posts

No, I haven't suspected anyone I work with to be impaired.

Specializes in pre hospital, ED, Cath Lab, Case Manager.

Yes. Twice.

First time I reported it to the head of Pharmacy, as we were between nurse managers ans I was working on a project with that department head. The person left our hospital and utimately 10 years later lost their nursing liscence for practicing under the influence.

Second time I went to my nurse manager at the time who blew me off. Later that person tried to commit suicide and went to rehab. They still work in my department and have been OK as far as I know.

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

Once. It was the typical stay out till 3am, come to work at 7am. She wound up losing her license.

angel 64

8 Posts

Yep I have. Let me share the story. I worked on a busy surgical floor of a small hospital. We had an LPN she was great withy her patients and seemed to be able to do anything. She was awesome each night when she worked she offered to take the dreaded narc keys. That was before PYXIS and two nurses counted every narc. Long story short it seemed that patients were in alot of pain on the nights she worked. She was found to be drawing demerol out of the prefilled carpujects and replacing it with ns. She was put i9nto rehab and the union backed her. She returned sixmonths later and had limited access to the narc keys. She then started drinking and coming to work drunk. Again she was sentr to rehab and again the union made the hospital gaurentee a position when she returned. Finally one night she managed to somehow od on something during the shift was taken to the ER and again she was sent to rehab. Eventually she left the hospital and I do not know what happened to her. However thatnks to cyberspace I know she still has her nursing license. I just hope to god I never find myself in the hospital and wake to see her.I am not compassionate to or have any tolerance of a health care worker that is impaired and comes to work.


12 Posts

Just a couple of comments on the matter. If you suspect that a nurse is impaired, it IS your responsibility to report them for two main reasons. First, the issue of patient safety, and secondly, for the safety of that nurse. The best approach is for an intervention to be set up and hopefully get the nurse into treatment. The WORST thing to happen is nothing. You are endangering the lives of patients and that nurse every day by sayng "it's not my job to report that" or "I don't want to make anyone upset at me".

For the most part, I belive that as nurses we tend to hold ourselves to higher standards than the rest of the population. After all, we are charged with peoples very lives and well-being, so our morals, ethics, and character should be reflective of that responsibility.

But facts are facts: Depending on what data you look at, roughly 10-13% of the American population is addicted to alcohol and or drugs. The percentages for nurses are no higher or lower than any other group. From the Fortune 500 CEO to the sanitation worker, the numbers are the same.

Which brings me to my point. Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. If you say that all impaired nurses should have their license yanked and led away in handcuffs, what will that accomplish? Sorry, we know you have a problem that needs to be taken care of, but you're on your own. Good luck. Would you say the same thing to someone suffering from depression or a bi-polar disorder?

Offering impaired nurses the opportunity to go into rehab, get involved in their recovery, and continue working in a supportive, supervised environment benefits all parties involved. Relapse is an unfortunate part of the process, and sometimes it takes what it takes for some people to 'see the light'. Should employers be obligated to retain employees who slip time and time again? Absolutely not, but don't discard people without offering them a chance and some hope.


799 Posts

Specializes in Step down, ICU, ER, PACU, Amb. Surg.

On 3 seperate occasions I have worked with impaired medical providers, only once was I aware.

1st time: We had a CNA that was working our floor. he would always ask for NS bullits and mints, always seemed to be popping rolaids. What made it sticky was that he was dating a friend and co-worker. It never really clicked that he was coming to work legally drunk, the pt's were always well cared for and he worked like a dog. And then things started going sour between my friend and him, she called me on several occasions to take her to the ER for health problems on advice of her PCP. Seems she could not get him awake to take her and once, he swung at her. That was when my suspicions were raised. Then I realized that he would go on break almost right after 1st rounds and everyone left him there till almost end of shift. Then I noticed that some of the call bells had been disconnected and then I started speaking up. But it seems he had it in with the night was well after I left that they busted him and he left. I last heard that he had gone through rehab/AA and was doing ok for him self.

2nd time: Medic where I work now....and a fantastic one at that. I never worked with him very often. He was always on nights and on opposite days of me. Was sent to rehab, brought back to full duty and then he got out.

3rd time: PA in our ER, again never worked that much with him. A co-worker kept raising the alarm, til he was sent to a different clinic to work. Alas, he was busted there and asked to leave or be fired after the same co-worker again raised the alarm. Don't know what happened to him.


160 Posts

I once worked with a nurse who was found to be abusing Demerol. I was unaware of it ~ naive??? ~ I never suspected a thing.

Last I knew this person went to rehab. The hospital backed and supported this nurse during recovery.


12 Posts


Not naive at all. People are usually very adept at hiding their addiction. It's usually not until the later stages that the physical signs and symptoms present themself.


6,011 Posts


More times than I can remember.

We actually had to call one nurse at home because she wasn't on time and thought she may have overslept. I got her 4 year old who said Mommie is on the floor asleep. SO keeping the tyke on the phone we called 911 and waited til they arrived. Seems Mommie had been using.

I recall one who would volunteer to start difficult IVs, give prns when you were busy, got stopped with 17 different narcs in her pocket at the time clock. One who said they'd STEPPED on a whold box of demerol tubexes and got someone to witness sight unseen.

So many over the years. But only one that I remember who actually refused rehab. I hear he lost his license. Great guy, always a joke or a story. Always willing to help......


24 Posts

My first job out of nursing school I worked with a nurse that when we were supposed to destroy drugs together she took them. I reported this to the DON and was told that it wasn't my place to be concerned. When it happened again I went ahead and gave my notice, a couple of years later I found out that nurse had lost her license due to a different incident so I went back to the facility to see about working there again because I did really enjoy my job and was told by the same DON that she would not rehire me because I was not a team player. I am much older and wiser now thank goodness!

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