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Impaired Nurses in Nursing Practice

In healthcare settings, impaired nurses are not praised because impairment is usually observed due to substance or alcohol abuse. In nursing practice, the definition of an impaired nurse is typically associated with a person who consumes alcohol and different types of drugs, and this behavior affects his or her performance (Huston, 2017). Another cause of the problem can be associated with the development of a mental illness. As a result of possible alcohol or drug addiction, mental illnesses, and irresponsible behaviors demonstrated by impaired nurses, patients’ safety can be affected negatively (Huston, 2017). The issues of the quality of care provided and patient safety influence how other nurses regard the behavior of their impaired peers.

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Understanding that impaired nurses cannot provide high-quality services for patients, healthcare professionals are expected to report unhealthy practices of their peers. However, in many cases, impaired nurses try to conceal their alcohol or drug consumption, and their peers tend to avoid reporting the issue because of ethical concerns. On the other hand, in most cases, risky behaviors of impaired nurses are not tolerated, and there are threats to their career. In most states of the USA, treatment should be provided to impaired nurses, along with allowing their returning to work. In other states, discipline actions are usually applied to these nurses, and they have no opportunities to continue their career (Huston, 2017). Thus, it is possible to observe the cases of stigmatization involved impaired nurses and their peers. The representatives of a medical community and other people are usually not inclined to demonstrate much support for impaired nurses when the problem is in alcohol or drug abuse. The reason is the unethical behavior of nurses in relation to patients and their safety.


Huston, C. J. (2017). Professional issues in nursing: Challenges and opportunities (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

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