Friday, November 23, 2007

Nurses and addiction

One of the leading stories in Montreal yesterday was the temporary license suspension of two nurses who were found guilty of diverting morphine from their patients: Two Montreal nurses suspended for using morphine. Sadly, this does happen – nurses have access to these types of medications and if they are drug-dependent, the temptation may be too strong for them to resist.

There was an outcry on one of the talk radio stations; the host felt that the nurses should never be allowed to get their license back – that they should be banned from working as a nurse forever. He blamed the union for the nurses to be allowed to one day regain their license.

I’m of two minds about this. I do see where the radio host was coming from. The news reports stated one of the nurses injected patients with saline in order to keep the narcotic for himself. I can only imagine the pain the patient must have been experiencing and how awful it must have been to be unrelieved. The anger the host had for this act was understandable. After all, this calls into question if this could ever happen to us.

But the other side of the story is, what if nurses successfully complete drug rehabilitation – should they be forever banned from earning a living in their profession? Isn’t that the point of rehabilitation? This particular story says that the nurses have been clean now since they were caught.

Is it really a one or the other option? Or is there another option; is it possible that nurses who have abused drugs can work again but without access to narcotics? Does such an option exist?

My fear for allowing recovering addicts to return would be the temptation that they may fall into. As successful as a rehab can be, if the temptation is there in front of the nurses every day, how easy might it be to fall back under the spell of the addiction? Did those nurses develop this problem after they were nurses or did they enter the profession with this addiction already? This could make a difference.

There are no easy answers.

News for Today:

Thalidomide resurfaces as treatment for multiple myeloma
B.C. community pleads for help to halt suicide 'epidemic'
Two Montreal nurses suspended for using morphine
Mirror helps relieve phantom limb pain


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I think professional organizations have a responsibility to protect patients first. I understand fairness and second chances, but when a professional has breached the line---giving patients unprofessional care---the consequences should be swift and final. The second chance these two should receive is the opportunity to complete rehab and start a new life and a new career based on personal and professional integrity.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Hi onehealthpro - I know what you mean and I don't disagree. I just wonder if maybe there is a place for a recovering addict to work in the field in a way that he or she isn't exposed to the addiction.