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Peer Assistance Programs For Nurses Essay

1610 words - 7 pages

Substance abuse among health care professionals is an issue that is continually gaining more attention due to the harmful affects it can have individuals as well as the patients. Substance abuse can greatly hinder the ability to provide quality care and if left unchecked could lead to serious implications within the health care facility. There are a significant amount of nurses and health care providers that deal with substance abuse problems. At one point, it was estimated, that 2-3%, of all nurses were addicted to drugs (Trinkoff, & Storr, 1998). To encourage nurses to seek help, the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses was created. This program gives employers, LVNs and RNs the ...view middle of the document...

The Texas Board of Nursing also governs nurses. While Nursing Practice Acts define a nurse’s scope of practice, The Texas Board of Nursing ensures the safety of its citizens by licensing only those who are competent in their nursing skills and practice. The Texas Board of Nursing consists of 13 members appointed by the governor with consent of the senate (Nurse Practice Act section 301.051). These individuals are in charge of establishing and monitoring the rules and regulations of both Vocational and Professional nursing. The board is also in charge of handling all disciplinary action. As nurses it is our responsibility to report, directly to the board, any wrong doings that we may witness in health care facilities. Recently, there has been a conflict between the Texas Board of Nursing and peer assistance programs. The Texas Nursing Peer Assistance Program was originally established as an alternative to reporting a nurse to the Board of Nursing. Recent legislation changes now state that a nurse who commits practice violations must be reported to the Board even if those practice violations are believed to be a result of chemical dependency or diminished mental capacity (Nurse Practice Act section 301.410).

In order to accurately assess this case, let us first examine the function of peer assistance programs. The Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses also known as TPAPN is a non-profit peer assistance program that operates under the Health & Safety Code, chapter 467. This program was designed to help health care professionals struggling with chemical dependency, alcohol or mental illness. This program is completely confidential, remains consistent with State and Federal laws and places a strong emphasis on education, advocacy, and opportunity (Leichter, 2007). The success rate of the program is unknown primarily due to the fact that each individual struggles with addiction differently and also has a different level of commitment to treatment. Ultimately, the program believes that every nurse deserves a second chance and with the proper treatment they will be able to return to their profession and provide safe and accurate patient care.

After researching peer assistance programs, it is apparent that they foster several ethical principles. The most prevalent of these ethical issues include autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance, and fidelity. Autonomy refers to a person’s right of freedom or the right to make their own choices, assuming they are mentally competent to do so. An example of this would be the nurses right to seek help for a substance abuse problem. The nurse has the freedom to choose whether or not to go to treatment and no one else can force him or her to obtain help. Beneficence is the ability to prevent harm or promote good within the heath care setting. Non-malfeasance is to do no harm and fidelity states that it is the nurse’s job to always practice faithfully. It is these ethical principles...

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