addicted nurses and doctors

Treatment of Addicted Nurses vs Addicted Doctors?

Prescription Drugs Abuse | in the Medical Community

Many nurses around the country feel that there is a disparity between how doctors and nurses are treated when they are caught abusing prescription medications. Physicians seem to receive multiple chances and are offered treatment before any action is taken against their license. However, nurses often lose everything for a first offense. This inequality seems to become more glaring as the prescription drug abuse epidemic grows. Therefore, its very easy to see how treatment of Addicted Nurses differs vs Addicted Doctors?

In fact, one nurse of 25 years, Elizabeth Pace of Denver, CO, is a board member for International Nurses Society on Addictions. She founded her own treatment program for nurses, pharmacists and dentists called Peer Assistance Services because of the discrepancy she observed between the professions. Pace states, “It appears that nurses are treated very differently…often publicly sanctioned and lose their licenses.”

There Are Several Reasons Why Nurses May Get Caught and Prosecuted More Often

The following factors may account for some or all of the perceived inequality in punishment between physicians and nurses caught abusing prescription meds:

  • There are many more nurses than doctors.
  • In determining criminality in a case, whether or not a patient was harmed from the behavior is considered. Doctors with their own prescription pads can easily get drugs without stealing from anyone. However, nurses generally have to take their patients’ drugs in order to feed their addictions.
  • Nurses are controlled by an assortment of human and computerized monitoring systems that attempt to detect any lost or stolen prescription medications.
  • Nurses and doctors are licensed under separate agencies in many states. The medical boards and nursing boards may have different procedures and standards for license suspension and revocation.
  • Many doctors work in small practices, which makes getting help quietly an easier task. Nurses most frequently work in larger institutions where misconduct is harder to keep under wraps.
  • Nurses are in charge of dispensing medications in hospitals. Unfortunately, when pill counts are off, many nurses are put into a situation where they are guilty until they can prove their innocence.

Nurses With Prescription Drug Addictions Can Typically Be Treated Successfully

The archetypal drug-addicted nurse is not a young, wild, socially deviant individual. On the contrary, addicted nurses tend to be overachievers with a lot of responsibility who have been in the field between 11 and 17 years. They often have a habit of being hard on themselves and discount their own stress and depression. This is the most common profile of an addicted nurse – a person in need of treatment and rehabilitation, not necessarily an individual who should lose their entire career.

How do you feel about doctors and nurses with a history of addiction? Do you think rehabilitation should be the first step in the majority of cases or do you think another solution is appropriate? Should they be allowed to return to their jobs?

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