Discussion: Professional Issues in Nursing
Discussion: Professional Issues in Nursing
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Nurses are viewed as among the most trustworthy, ethical, and honest profession in American society” (Houston, 2017). Individuals rely on both skill and knowledge of healthcare providers especially nurses to provide optimal patient centered care to those who are in need. Nurses are held to a high regard despite long work hours, stressful work environment, and even understaffing. Medication diversion is a problem healthcare provider especially nurses encounter due to easy access of controlled substances, frequency of medication administration and autonomy given by any given workplace. “One out of every ten nurses struggle with a substance use problem” (Houston, 2017). The article “Nurse pleads to taking, replacing opioid pain medicine” written by Jeff Reinitz August 3, 2019 published in a local newspaper The Courier in Charles City, Iowa describes how a nurse anesthetist was diverting opioid medication in a local hospital over approximate 2 year period despite suspicions by staff and administration until finally being forced to leave. “Impaired practice includes that professional judgement is impaired because of the effects of drugs or alcohol or mental illness, and this compromises patient safety” (Houston, 2017).
The article mentioned describes how the nurse anesthetist West used the medication Propofol to get a quick euphoria and to “check out” also while using other medications he had diverted. West would order extra medications for procedures so that the leftover medications could be used for himself; medication waste would have to be documented and he would rely on one particular nurse to always witness the waste. West would allegedly drop and break medication frequently more often the other providers; hospital officials changed procedures so that the same staff member could not act as a witness when wasting narcotics, but West was never confronted. Administration brought concerns to West regarding patient practice regarding Obstetric patients and complications that had occurred when he was managing their care; drug testing was never administered. Medications were being taken from Omnicells by West during work hours; even weekends and after hours when not working or scheduled for surgery. Narcotics such as Sufentanil ampules had been broken and glued back together after being filled with saline; West reported that he would waste these medications so that the patient didn’t get the tampered containers. West was found semi unconscious on the hospital bathroom floor with two syringes by a visitor after injecting Propofol; West stepped down after this incident despite administration being suspicious of suspected drug use. No drug testing was administered ever during Wests employment despite suspicions.
West compromised his professional, ethical and legal obligations by diverting medications for personal use. The ANA states that it is the ethical and legal duty of a nurse to advocate for public safety, their colleagues and the profession (Houston, 2017). As a nurse you are expected to provide care within your scope of practice while acting in a safe manner; under medicating and diverting medications instead of administration is acting in an unprofessional and unethical way. It is reported that the use of nonmedical prescription drug use among nurses is higher than in general populations, whereas alcohol and drug use disorders is less (Houston, 2017). Legally West had his nursing license suspended and faces charges for tampering which is punishable by time in prison. The nurses and administration working with West also may have compromised their professional and ethical obligations to the patients if there was suspicion, but action wasn’t taken. “All nurses who suspect an impaired colleague need to take action as they have an ethical, regulatory and legal obligation in the interest of patient safety as per ANA” (Houston, 2017).
Huston, C. Professional Issues in Nursing. [Bookshelf Ambassadored]. Retrieved from https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781975140366/ (Links to an external site.)
Reinitz, J. (2019). Nurse pleads to taking opioid pain medicine. WCF Courier. Retrieved from http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/crime-and-courts (
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