Paper Example on Nursing Impairment

Published: 2023-03-27
Paper Example on Nursing Impairment
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Ethical dilemma Substance abuse Nursing care Drug abuse
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1787 words
15 min read

Nursing impairment is considered to be a serious ethical issue that usually occurs when a nurse practitioner is unable to offer the patients safe care because of using mind or mood-altering substance or having a certain distorted though that is triggered by a particular psychological condition. A survey on healthcare delivery indicated that nursing impairment does not only put the life of the patient in danger but also tries to threaten the safety and health of the patient (Krokmyrdal & Andenaes, 2015). The healthcare nurses are usually required to uphold the safety of the patient and also offer healthcare without any kind of impairment; however, the use of mind-altering substances usually undermines this code. Healthcare reports indicate that approximately 10% to 15% of nurses are actively impaired or in the recovery process (Krokmyrdal & Andenaes, 2015). The cases of nurse's impairment have mostly been caused by the increased probability of abusing prescription medication and easy access to controlled drugs. In most cases, the narcotics are considered to be the most abused drugs among the nurse practitioner. Identifying the actual pattern and prevalence of drug use disorder among nursing is perceived to be difficult due to the increased cases of denial among nurses and the increased fear of both personal and legal repercussions. Therefore, before the nurse in charge or the management notes or takes action, the affected or impaired nurse tends to have progressed to the addiction stage. There are numerous risk factors of substance abuse. Some of these factors include coping difficulties, social pressure, increased stress levels, genetic pre-dispositioning, and low job satisfaction. Some of the common signs that an impaired nurse portrays include slurred speech, reduced alertness, memory loss, and poor work performance. this paper intends to discuss the issue of nursing impairment in the healthcare profession

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Ethical Dimensions of nursing impairment

The issue of nursing impairment tends to have various ethical dimensions that include, first protection of the affected individuals. Currently, most nurses in the healthcare system are affected by the issue of impairment. in most instances, the nurses usually find it hard to talk to their colleagues or the healthcare management due to the fear that they may be punished for their impairment habit. The fear developed makes the nurse condition to worsen such that by the time the workmates realize the problem tends to be in the addiction stage. However, the government, in collaboration with the healthcare system, is trying to introduce a program aimed at early detection and treatment of substance use disorder and also ensure that the nurses with substance use disorder are not punished, and the affected nurses are heavily monitored (Zuleta et al., 2017). However, more ought to be done to improve or enhance the protection of the affected nurses. These will motivate the affected individuals to her out their challenges and seek early treatment.

Secondly, informed consent. In nursing impairment, the affected individuals are usually concerned about the confidentiality of their condition once they share it with other workmates. in some instances, most of the workers in a certain location do not uphold privacy. Such an issue has made it hard for the affected nurses to share their condition with other people. This can also be viewed as one of the reason why these cases are increasing at a very fast rate without management notice. Healthcare facilities should introduce a system whereby the nurses can report their issues with total confidence that total privacy will be maintained until they get well.

Thirdly, regarding the Standard of Care, the impaired nurses have been having challenges receiving the right medical treatment and monitoring. The nurses should be subjected to fair medical treatment without being discriminated and should also be allocated all necessary healthcare resources. In the united states, some of the states have initiated a program that is focused on ensuring that the affected nurses get medical treatment instead of firing them. These programs will help to protect the rights of the nurses since they are not denied the needed medical treatment. The government should ensure that all the states have implemented such a program in order to solve the issue of access to healthcare. This will also help to reduce cases of substance abuse among nurses.

The relevance of nursing impairment to Health Professions/Nursing

The issue of nursing impairment is very relevant to nursing or the healthcare profession due to various reasons that include, first, the issue is trying to undermine the patient's safety. With the rate at which the nurses are engaging in substance abuse due to various factors such as streets, low job satisfaction, fatigue, and working for long hours, the patients are also being subjected to a huge risk. Using drugs usually undermines the nurse's memory, concentration, and ability to perform duties effectively. This effect reduces the nurse's capability to assess the patient and offer the right medical treatment. In most cases, the affected nursed usually end up engaging in medical errors that result to serious court convictions. Therefore, if the issue of nursing impairment is not controlled in the affected health facilities, the level of patient safety across the country is likely to deteriorate. By engaging in substance use, the nurses also tend to put their lives in danger. When the nurse is under the influence of drugs, he or she is likely to incur various medical injuries while in the line of duty; for instance, the healthcare worker may prick him or herself with a contaminated needle, thus resulting to various a serious medical conditions.

Secondly, the issue also tries to determine the nurse's ability to maintain good morals when in the workplace. When undergoing nursing training, nurses are usually taught how to engage in good morals and uphold good work ethics. The nurses are also taught on how to withstand working in such a high-stress environment, work for long hours, and work under pressure. The high rate of substance abuse among the nurses seeks or tries to question the nature of training that the healthcare workers are receiving while undergoing training. The nurses and other healthcare professionals are required to portray a good picture, for instance, avoiding drugs while in the workplace in order to improve the patient's trust and improve the level of safety (Ganz, Wagner, & Toren, 2015). The increasing cases of nurse impairment act as a clear indication to the nursing training institutions and other healthcare professional institutions that they should put more effort ensure that the healthcare professionals are able to avoid all the risk factors that are likely to make them indulge in drugs. Some of the ways in which the schools can ensure that the healthcare professionals are able to withstand these factors include ensuring that the nurses have had enough exposure to the healthcare field, for instance, by engaging them in timely internships and also engaging the workers in regular counseling sessions.

Thirdly, the issue is trying to show the management and control of the risk factors or issues that are affecting the health workers. Most nurses engage in substance abuse due to various risk factors that exist in the workplace, for instance, role strain, irregular supervisions, easy access to the controlled substances, and lack of stick pharmaceutical control. An increase in the number of nursing impairment cases shows that there are no strict policies or laws in place to control some of these risk factors. All healthcare professionals are required to ensure that there is strict monitoring and supervision of workers to ensure that they do not engage in substance abuse. Therefor a case of impairment can be used as a good indicator of determining how well the healthcare institutions usually teach their students how to avoid these risk factors. The ethical issue also determined the level of government involvement in preventing the occurrence of these cases. The government should be at the forefront of ensuring that the healthcare profession has set strict policies or regulations that prevent these risk factors.

Relevant Ethical Analysis


Since this ethical issue is likely to affect any healthcare worker, the healthcare institution should be fair and just to the affected individuals . for instance; the healthcare facilities should subject all the affected workers to the same treatment program whereby none of the workers should be offered better services compared to the other. The healthcare facility should also ensure the same disciplinary action is given to all the affected individuals. Cases of firing the affected workers should be avoided in order to ensure that the nurses are ready to open up without fear. The actions that are to be taken against the affected nurses should be fair to them and should uphold their rights. Currently, the united states healthcare system has enrolled a program whereby the affected nurses are subjected to fair and equal treatment with no disciplinary action taken against them. This kind of program has helped to take most of the cases that are affecting the nurses.


This is an ethical theory that usually requires people to be judged based on their character rather than on other actions that may have deviated from normal behavior. The impaired nurses ought to be judged by their previous character and performance rather than on the issue of substance use. Upholding this virtue will help to ensure no tough action, such as being fired, is taken against any of the affected nurses (Fu, 2015). Once the management realizes that a particular nurse is engaging in substance use, they should engage him or her in a treatment program that will help him or her recover. The current nursing impairment, early detection, and treatment program that is currently being implemented in most health facilities have been seen to uphold this virtue. The program strictly restricts any healthcare management from taking any disciplinary action against the impaired nurse.

Personal Professional Response to the Issue

Implementation of a Program That Will Facilitate Early Identification and Treatment Program.

To curb the increasing cases of nursing impairment, healthcare management, in collaboration with the respective government agency, should introduce a healthcare program whose aim will be to ensure that nursing impairment is detected and treated early enough. At the initial stage of substance use, most nurses tend to use the drugs less frequently; however, if the habit continues without any detection, the nurse is very likely to become an addict. In most cases, it is usually hard and expensive to treat an addict as compared to a person who is in the initial stages of using the drugs. The united states healthcare system has already started enrolling the substance use early detection and treatment program; however, some of the states have not fully adopted it. The government should intervene in order to ensure that all the healthcare facilities have implemented the program.

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