REDICULOUS mistake, worried I'll never practice nursing again

  1. **Please keep negative, hateful comments off this thread, I've already beat myself up for weeks regarding my current situation and don't need a gang of you to help me**

    I have been in Nursing for 3 years now and just got fired from my hospital job for a ridiculous mistake. I need advice on how to move forward in this, I feel paralyzed in fear and shame as my incident has been self reported to the state board for review. I have no idea how to talk about this in future interviews.

    my first job I worked for 2.5 years on a busy medaurg unit an hour away from my house, I recently switched jobs only a few months ago to an amazing unit in another specialty I loved that was close to home. I was working the night shift and enjoyed it a lot.

    I packed my lunch for my second shift of three in a hurry as I was leaving the house so I could get to my shift early. I packed a flavored sparkling water my friend left at my house in my fridge after a pool party the week before and another soda for some energy when things slowed down in the middle of the night. My husband tried the sparkling water earlier in the week and so had I and I didn't just want to throw them away. The night was going great, my patients were wonderful and I took a lunch break at midnight and drank some of my sparkling water with my meal. I did my med passes, charted, and sipped on my drink at the station as I went about my nightly duties. The morning was busy so I spent 15 extra minutes at end of shift wrapping up my charting and checking everything over. I wanted to make sure to clock out before 8am so I grabbed my things and rushed to clock out once I was done.

    I received a text message once I got home from my manager with a picture of my sparkling water from the front desk that I had left out. I thought oops! I forgot to clean my workstation up! As others in the thread began to Freak Out about the drink I realized that this sparkling water my friend brought to the house had ALCOHOL in it. Guys I DRANK THIS AT WORK. I tried not to panic and called my husband to try to keep me sane enough to call my manager. He had no idea the drink had alcohol either, he had one earlier in the week and didn't even think to check the label of the can. I called my manager and was honest that this drink was mine, and did my best to explain I had no idea the content of the drink but what was done was done which seemed hard for him to believe. I was fired on the spot and asked to self report to the state board. Now I'm jobless and have no idea how to explain to future employers this insane incident. I feel terrible and shameful but so thankful I innocently sipped on the thing for 6 hours and didn't even finish it so my patient care wasn't affected. Thank God, I think how much worse this could have been. If I had thrown the can away I NEVER would have even known what was actually in that can. My dumb self didn't even know alcoholic seltzer water existed to check for it. Stupid me.

    My employer agrees my patients were not affected so it's not being pursued as a patient related incident. The state board says it's going to take upwards of 18 MONTHS to complete the report since it's a low priority case. I'm going to be given a choice to go through AA and regular urine screenings, with restrictions on my license for up to three years (non disciplinary program) or have an investigator from the board look into my case. I have no idea how to navigate this. I don't even know what I'd do in an AA meeting, I don't frequently drink - I've been drunk once in my life, this isn't me! This whole situation feels like a bad dream. I'm in my mid 20's and I feel like I've ruined my nursing career only 3 years in.

    If you're going to comment, please, I need facts about this. Plenty of people in my life say they 'think' it'll just get dismissed and they 'know' I'll get another job but I just can't believe everyone's opinions. I'm praying for a Degree of Censure and no restrictions on my license, I don't know how likely that will be. Thank you for reading my story, I've read through every thread on this site- all I hear about nurses that get fired is bad discouraging things but I can only hope that it's just the bad stories that get written on here and the good endings people don't write about.

    Jobless and Confused
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    About NurseBecky0520

    Joined: Jun '18; Posts: 1; Likes: 1


  3. by   dianah
    Moved to more appropriate forum.
    Not pointing fingers or making assumptions; only presenting the issue to experienced colleagues, whose support, insight, and comments may be helpful to you.
  4. by   pmabraham
    Hello. I'm sorry you are going through this experience. I guess the lessons learned include reading the label so there are no assumptions (we do this when we are pulling meds correct?) and making sure to clear our work area when we are done. Questions that might be asked of you (at interviews or before a board etc) is how does one go through an entire shift drinking out of a bottle without reading the label or even just the name on the bottle that might have given clues the bottle contained alcohol. I do hope you receive mercy so that you can continue to practice as a nurse, but I also hope lessons take hold (read the bottle, read the label, don't consume anything you are not 100% sure of what's in it and don't leave garbage including left overs et all at work).
  5. by   amzyRN
    I would hire an attorney. If you didn't know and are telling the truth, why would you lie and go to an AA meeting or "admit" you were an addict? Another question, how could you not know there was alcohol in it, wouldn't you be able to tell the effect it had on you? How would your work know there was alcohol in it? Did they smell it or something and if they could smell it, how come you didn't feel the effects? Usually if a drink smells of alcohol, it will effect the drinker. I can see why the board would presume you are lying because it's so outlandish. I'm not saying you're lying, but how this seems to a reasonable person.

    I'm not saying this cannot happen, everyone processes alcohol differently. Maybe you didn't feel it or smell it and were exhausted and your coworker picked it up and smelled it and it smelled like booze. I would hire the best attorney possible and see what they say. I would not lie if I were innocent of something because that is also wrong, in my opinion.
  6. by   amzyRN
    I don't think it's appropriate to lie and go to AA meetings if you are innocent. I would hire the best attorney possible. To a reasonable person, however, making such a mistake seems far fetched. The reason being is that most people would feel the effects of the alcohol and know they had consumed an alcoholic beverage. Secondly, how would work know it had alcohol in it? Did they smell it? If they could smell it, why didn't you smell it or feel it effecting you? I am not saying you are lying but just that I can see why the board might think you are being dishonest.

    For myself, I would not admit to something that I did not do, willfully putting patients at risk, violating the nurse practice act and company policy etc-which this case exemplifies. I still can't get over how they knew it had alcohol in it. Why were they sniffing your sparkling water and why wouldn't you be albe to smell, taste and feel it? These are the questions the board might ask if this brought to a hearing.
  7. by   Kallie3006
    While this is something that is horrible to go through, hopefully you can learn from this and turn the negative into a positve. Please know that what I say is stuff that I have learned from a Whole lot of googling and my opinions. I have a couple questions and then hoepfully some insight for you on direction options you may have.

    Did you call and self report? If not, I would not do that unless you talk to a lawyer and they advise you to. The BON is not in place for you, they will not stand up for you, or see this as an "oops" wrong drink, oh well. They are in place to protect the public, that is what they care about, are you safe to care for patients or are you deemed as a threat to the public's safety. If you decide to go through the extended evaluation program are you ready to state you have a problem drinking, you need help and supervison, the structure and/or sponsor? Will you be ready to go through the BON evaluation assessment that may scrutinize every detail of your life to label you as someone with an addictive personality, harmful coping skills, and someone that is needing to be monitored to ensure you are staying on track? I would not volunteer myself for the program on my own accord, but that's me, and I'm stubborn.

    Did they get any samples from you? (breath, urine, saliva, blood) that shows you had alcohol in your system while practing? Did you sign any papers admitting guilt? Have you consulted a lawyer that handles nurses dealing with the BON? If not I would be making some consultation appointments ASAP. I would not contact or repond to the BON without talking to a lawyer first.

    Start looking for a job ASAP, usually applications ask if you have or are under investigation with the BON, which as of now you are not. Your license should still be unencumbered and I would not mention any of this to a potiential employer.

    Brief synopsis of my story..... I was accused of working under the influence and asked to submit a UDS at the end of my shift. I complied. I had nothing to hide. I had someone say something to superior personel at 1530 and was not tested until after 2000. I was on the floor in direct patient care the whole time they suspected impairment. I tested on a Sunday and new my fate the next Friday. They said my urine tested positive, I was terminated and turned into the BON. I got 1 year on EEP because this was a "one time" event, no marks on my license and no restrictions. That was with a lawyer. It took me 14 months to clear my name. 14 months of he** and frustration. 7 of those 14 months I was in EEP, daily check in's, random UDS and internal torment. I finally was able to get my split sample retested and it was negative. My case got closed with the BON and my license is clean.

    I hope eveything goes in your favor. Good luck and keep us posted. Let me know if there is any help I can provide.
  8. by   mtmkjr
    The workplace probably recognized the drink as alcoholics and play by looking at the label or recognizing the brand.

    I can understand not knowing ahead of time that a drink is alcoholic, when one is unfamiliar with the brand.

    I do not understand how once one begins to drink it, that one does not taste the alcohol, nor feel the effects.

    The final oddity is that you sat there and sipped from it casually in your workplace and left the bottle behind. I believe that if you knew it was alcoholic you would have gone to great lengths to hide it and then discard it so no one would see the evidence. For this reason, I would believe that you did not know.

    However, since things just don't seem add up, and lacking more information, it is easier to believe that the OP is looking to garner support... and that some details have been tweaked just a bit for that reason.
  9. by   Mavrick
    I can't get over ANYONE sipping on a can of "sparkling water" for 6 hours. It would have to be seriously flat after an hour and totally unsatisfying. I'm a Diet Dr. Pepper man myself. Would 2 liters a day be considered excessive??

    OK. With that bad joke out of the way. I am so sorry you are getting the royal overreaction to all things drug/alcohol related.

    There certainly is a time and place to keep impaired nurses from endangering patients but the current punitive system we have is just not equipped to deal the the various forms of legal alcohol use.

    I have no experience with the "system" but have heard such horror stories that I have no respect for the massive money-grab going on in the "treatment" world.

    I do know you can go to any open AA meeting and not admit to anything. There is a lot of wisdom at those meetings for dealing with life without using drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, porn or the internet.
  10. by   BurnedoutICURN
    Hire a lawyer. Do not navigate the board of nursing alone.
  11. by   rn1965
    100 % HIRE AN ATTORNEY and DO NOT answer any questions from the BON before you speak with an attorney. I have no reason to believe you are making anything up. And this is just the case that should not end up in monitoring land.

    Good luck to you!
  12. by   fibroblast
    To me it sounds the hospital is trying to protect itself. I think most have made a mistake like that, picking up a drink that didn't look like alcohol and drank it. Who would really take something like that a drink it at work and advertise it to everybody? I'm with everyone else, get an attorney, look for another job while there is nothing on your license.
  13. by   NICU Guy
    If you had a history of alcohol at work and brought the drink to work in a reusable water bottle, then there might be a question of you knowing what the seltzer contained. Instead, you had the original can for all your coworkers to see and accidently left it at work. That would be like bringing a can of beer to work, sipping on it for hours, leaving the can out in the open for everyone to see and expect no one to notice. You should have been given the benefit of the doubt and maybe suspend you for not recognizing the can contained alcohol.
  14. by   hppygr8ful
    I personally would not have self-reported this to the BON but I can see why panic led you in that direction. My best advice is to get a consult with an attorney who is familiar with professional practice issues. Don't just pick one out of the phone book. I have no reason to believe you are lying about this and in my opinion the cost of an attorney is far less than the cost incurred by a monitoring program. While these programs protect you license from discipline they end up costing you thousands of dollars. Meanwhile don't talk about this on line or to anyone other than your husband as anything said becomes discoverable in a court of law of administrative hearing. Use that 18 months to work as much as you can and lay in as much cash as possible.

    Peace and Namaste