Three Days in the ICU

Last week I was not in my office. I flew to the west coast to be with a relative who had been taken to the hospital.  When I arrived, I found the relative had been taken to the ICU at their local small community hospital. For the next three days and nights, I stayed with the relative in the hospital.  What I found was really quite amazing.

I was raised in a family of medical professionals and I have spent the better part of twenty years representing medical professionals before their professional licensure boards. I have been to the hospital before, for simple trips to the ER for stitches or a simple fracture. I also spent two nights in the hospital after the births of my children. Nothing in my past prepared me for the time I spent with my relative in the ICU.

I was thoroughly amazed at the level of care that was provided to my relative. I had always known that nurses provided the bulk of the care to patients, but to see it first hand was awe-inspiring. While it was a small hospital, all records were maintained electronically and all medications dispensed were logged into the record. However, since my relative did not have a local physician, they were cared for by the in-house “hospitalists”. Specialists were called in throughout our time at the hospital to evaluate various aspects of the patient’s care, however, it was the nursing staff who provided the constant care to the patient, advocated for the patient, and updated the physicians of the patient’s current medical condition.

Given the fact that the patient did not have an internist who coordinated care, they saw a different hospitalist at each shift. Over the three days that the patient was in the ICU and the other days that they were on a med/surgical floor, they never once saw the same hospitalist. However, the nursing staff provided the continuous care and continuity of treatment to the patient by updating each hospitalist who examined the patient and each specialist as to the patient’s medical history, demeanor and current medical condition. It was a great relief that I did not have to continue to update each physician as to the patient’s condition since they had been prepped daily by the nursing staff.

As a nurse, never under-estimate the superior service and value that you provide to patients and to their families.  To the nursing community at large, this blog post is a huge “thank you” to your service to the community.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please call me at (614) 486-3909, email me at beth@collislaw.com or check out my website for more information at http://www.collislaw.com.

Do you have a prescription for that?

In most nursing positions, nurses are subjected to random, unannounced drug screens by their employer. Usually nurses are prepared to provide a drug test as a pre-condition for employment. However, once nurses have been working in a location for a while, they forget that employers may ask them to submit to a drug screen for cause (ie. if there are missing medications), when they are moved to a new unit, or just on a random basis.

If the drug test is positive for an illegal drug, the nurse may face suspension or termination from their job and the positive test result will also be reported to the Ohio Board of Nursing. However, often nurses test positive for prescription medications. If the nurse is able to provide their employer with a copy of a prescription showing that they have been prescribed the medication by their doctor, then it is not a problem. But, in many cases, nurses do not have prescriptions for medications they have taken. On occasion, nurses will take their friends’, spouse’s or kids’ medications, resulting in a positive drug screen.

Testing positive on a drug screen for a medications which has not been  prescribed,  may result in negative ramifications with your employment and your nursing license. The Ohio Board of Nursing regularly takes disciplinary actions against nurses who test positive for prescription medications, which have not been prescribed to them.

I recently spoke to a nurse who told me that her doctor told her to keep any old narcotic medications in her cabinet in case she or another family member might need the medication. This is improper advise. Medications can only be taken by the person who has been prescribed the medication. You can’t just keep a “stash” of prescription medications in your cabinet to be used by anyone who has access to the cabinet.

If you have left over medications, follow appropriate disposal procedures to discard the medication. Do not store unused narcotic medications in an unsecure location where other family members (including teenagers) may have access to the drugs.

Finally for nurses, if you have not been prescribed a medication, you should not ingest it as it may lead to a positive drug screen that may jeopardize your employment and license to practice as a nurse in Ohio.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel to check out my website www.collislaw.com or email me at beth@collislaw.com or call me at (614) 486-3909.