Nurse Impairment: A Problem that can Occur to Anyone

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Chemical dependency has been acknowledged as one of the leading health problems in the United States. In health care professionals, the number of cases of chemical dependency is one out of five to seven (Guidelines, 2009). Nurse impairment is a topic that can affect any nurse at any time. Students in nursing school need to be told about and understand that nurse impairment occurs frequently in the health care system and it can happen to anyone.

Review of Literature

Chemical dependency in the nursing profession has been recognized as one of the leading health issues in the America (Guidelines, 2009). It is estimated that around 16 percent of United States citizens suffer from addiction, but the population of nurses is estimated to be one in five or around 20 percent. The ease of access to controlled medications is thought to be one of the reasons for the increase from average Americans (Monroe, Pearson, & Kegaga, 2008). Chemical dependency is a treatable, medical illness that has distinguishable signs and symptoms (Guidelines, 2009). Substance dependency causes can be from many factors. Although, nursing can be a rewarding and enriching career, it also can be stressful and demanding. A few factors include long hours, large workloads, and overtime (Ortgiesen, 2009). The stress can cause burden and some nurses use substances such as drug and alcohol in order to try to cope (Kunyk & Austin, 2012).

When nurses with untreated, active dependency are providing care, the practice of the nurse is impaired and can negatively affect patient safety (Kunyk & Austin, 2012). If the drugs are acquired from the hospital or workplace, patients may suffer by being under-medicated. Nurses are required to address threats that occur in the del...

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... Horton-Deutsch, S., O'Haver Day, P., Gavardinas, T., Outlaw, C., Palmer, R., & Schroeder, M. (2012). Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program: Identifying Gender Differences in Substance Use Disorders. Perspectives In Psychiatric Care, 48(1), 41-46. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6163.2010.00300.x

Monroe, T., & Kenaga, H. (2011). Don't ask don't tell: substance abuse and addiction among nurses. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 20(3/4), 504-509. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03518.x

Monroe, T., Pearson, F., & Kenaga, H. (2008). Procedures for handling cases of substance abuse among nurses: a comparison of disciplinary and alternative programs. Journal Of Addictions Nursing, 19(3), 156-161.

Ortgiesen, J. (2009). Report and help impaired nurses to protect patients from harm... "Substance Abuse Among Nurses" (Johnson Talbert, 2009). Clinical Journal Of Oncology Nursing, 13(3), 260
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