Protocol for drug dependent health-care professionals a positive step

Ontario nursing professionals now have a confidential and secure way to address their drug and alcohol problems, Toronto health lawyer Lonny Rosen tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“The issue until now was that nurses who had health issues had difficulty accessing resources needed for treatment and would also have difficulty engaging in treatment programs that were acceptable to the College,” says Rosen.

The Nurses’ Health Program — developed by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO), the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) — addresses the issue, he says.

“This is a positive step forward. Many of the cases before the Discipline Committee of the CNO involve drug and alcohol problems,” says Rosen, a Law Society of Ontario-certified health law specialist.

One of the biggest issues for nurses is their relatively easy access to narcotics on the job, he says.

“Nurses have to deal with their stressful practice and a crushing workload, and for someone with an addiction or illness, the temptation is sometimes too difficult to resist,” Rosen says.

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