Thursday, October 13, 2011
The Impaired Nurse
Last week, Pat Noble, Executive Director of the Maryland Board of Nursing, spoke to our Nursing Leadership Group on Substance Disorders and the Impaired Nurse. Pat shared story after story, all were true, but without specifics. It is amazing as to the lengths that the impaired or addicted nurse will go to hide their addiction, but still satisfy it. We learned of addicted nurses who have lost everything, their spouses, their children, their homes, their cars, but taking away their license to be a nurse was the final straw that lead to their rehabilitation. We were also reminded that a nurses' license depends on him or her reporting any threat to a patient being committed by another nurse. Addiction or impairment certainly qualifies. It is in everyone's best interest for such reporting to occur, but most importantly for the patient whose care we are entrusted with as well as the addicted nurse. At WMHS and at the Maryland Board of Nursing, both go to great lengths to support the rehabilitation of the impaired nurse. Pat's approach to the Impaired Nurse is to be commended. She is truly there to protect the patient, but also to save not only a nurse's career, but his or her life. The presentation was enlightening and made me think how fortunate Maryland nurses are to have Pat at the helm.