Nurses restrained with "arrest authority" in Alabama

A Dec. 1 news report points out an interesting fact: in most hospitals and doctors' offices, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, nurses are the ones who tend to be most often in contact with patients. When a nurse makes a mistake, it can be devastating for a patient, leading to various injuries or even death. When a mistake happens, that nurse may have to answer to the Alabama Board of Nursing.

What's the most common issue nurses are disciplined for in Alabama? According to research through years of documents, nurses most often were disciplined due to addiction-related issues. Other issues involved nurses talking about patients on Facebook, which is illegal thanks to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws. Nurses caught doing so had punishments that ranged from reprimands to license suspensions.

Some nurses at one hospital were fired for drinking a beer at lunch; they then returned to work in the surgical unit of the hospital. Both received probation and a $300 fine. Interestingly enough, nurses like these are able to be prevented from working during the investigation thanks for "arrest authority." This is something used by the medical and state pharmaceutical boards to learn about ongoing criminal investigations. With that information, employers are able to determine if a nurse should continue to work or not. Without that information, the nurse could continue to work until the case was finalized and a verdict was reached.

Source: Alabama's 13, "13 INVESTIGATES: When Nurses Fail" Linda White, Dec. 01, 2014

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