Finally in the news this week I found an interesting article on the challenges faced by one state in tracking nurses who might be addicted to drugs like pain killers. Apparently, the nurses in the facilities in Virginia are not required to be drug tested before they start work or submit to random drug testing while on the job. They are apparently not considered safety sensitive workers.

Addiction Reporting Concerns for Healthcare Workers

Medical theme of blue latex gloved hand with full syringe. White background.Some hospitals do have programs in place but it is managed on a facility by facility basis. The article on nurse addiction is written from the public perspective and quotes patient advocacy groups that want more disclosure if nurses and other healthcare professionals have substance abuse problems.

These groups complain that health care organizations representing these healthcare workers are attempting to stop that disclosure and are enabling the continued abuse and potential for patient harm. I disagree. I think that this, like all addiction issues, is a healthcare problem that can be treated and should not be disclosed as long as the employee in question complies with a work approved treatment program.

Addiction is Healthcare Issue

If nurses are seeking addiction treatment and are clean, they are not a danger to anyone and shouldn’t have their practice and career impacted negatively. If they refuse treatment or fail to comply with a treatment program then there are systems in place to revoke or suspend licensure. Anything further is just a witch hunt that assumes that hospitals and other healthcare employers are knowingly letting addicts who are using drugs continue to work and see patients.

This is ridiculous. I’m sure you have an opinion on this so shoot me an email to or leave a comment on the page here below at I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Chatting With Nurse Practitioner Podcast Hosts and Episode 325.



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