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May 2024

Why Do Nurses Hesitate To Report Colleagues Struggling With Drug Addiction?

In nonmedical industries, colleagues tend to relate on a largely superficial level because work gets segmented individually.

Nurses, on the other hand, work in collaboration every day and they experience intense emotions such as joy when patients recover and grief whenever people succumb to disease or injuries.

This is why most nurses form close friendships with each other, however, it’s quite puzzling that these friends hesitate to report colleagues struggling with drug addiction, yet the lives of patients are at stake.

Reasons Why Nurses Fear Getting Labelled As The Workplace Snitch

1. Fear Of Appearing Malicious Or Envious

It’s not unusual to work in an environment and have minor differences with colleagues. However, people generally raise eyebrows when there are frequent arguments or tense moments between two particular nurses. If one of them happens to get dismissed or face state disciplinary action, the colleagues might assume that his or her enemy reported them to the employer based on malice.

People also assume that tattletales are so envious of their targets that they’ll go to any extent to sabotage careers.

2. Fear Of Castigation From Peers

There’s blowback to be expected whenever nurses feel that their colleague is a victim of witch-hunting. Colleagues can suddenly turn hostile on the nurse responsible for reporting their friend and this affects job productivity. Other nurses can intentionally decide to sabotage the work of the tattletale in retaliation and this contributes to stress that causes burnouts. Direct ostracization is dangerous because nurses cannot function effectively by themselves.

3. Fear Of The Victim Losing Their Nursing License

Chemical impairment usually attracts severe consequences because no employer wants to face lawsuits stemming from the medical negligence of a nurse struggling with substance abuse. Healthcare providers found guilty of the offense can face license revocation or enter into disciplinary programs that obligate them to unfriendly terms and conditions.

It’s not a light matter when considering that a person might lose their only opportunity to earn their livelihood as a result of notifying the employer about increasing cases of drug use. The level of guilt associated with this action lasts for several years.

4. The Nurse Struggling With Drug Addiction May Have Connections In Management

In some cases, the nurse in question might be related to a department manager or worse, someone in the hospital’s board of directors. Colleagues that are aware of this relationship will turn a blind eye whenever the nurse shows up to work while intoxicated or found stealing medication from the pharmacy. The consequences of trying to report in such a situation could lead to the loss of employment despite following the hospital’s code of conduct.

5. Anonymity May Not Be A Guarantee

Anonymity cannot be guaranteed when nurses get paired up in teams during their shifts. If a nurse spots their colleague diverting pain medication by administering lower doses to patients, the best option would be to confront them on the spot.

Staying silent may offer temporary relief from the fact that confrontations over medication will be avoided, however, both nurses suffer a great deal. As the addiction progresses, the addict will start skipping work or performing so dismally that the teammate has to work extra hard to cover these areas of weaknesses.

6. Possibility Of Violent Confrontations With The Accused Nurse

A colleague that’s concerned with their friend’s habit of showing up to work drunk might hesitate to report the issue if the nurse in question has a reputation for violence. The thought of dealing with an irate colleague that wants to knuckle up in the parking lot after work is scary to most people. There’s also the possibility of property damage if the colleague decides to smash the accuser’s car windows and slash their tires in retaliation.

7. People Shift Responsibility A lot When It Comes To Reporting Sensitive Matters

Just like the nursery tale, about the rats that pointed fingers when it came to deciding who would put the bell around the cat’s neck, so do nurses when it comes to reporting colleagues struggling with intoxication. Each colleague silently shifts responsibility to the next hoping that either the affected nurse reforms or land themselves in trouble and get fired so that nobody carries the blame.