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Impaired nurses are negligent by default

The opioid crisis that hit the Boston area hard has also left an indelible impact on the medical profession. From over-prescribing physicians to addicted nurses, the shock waves continue to reverberate throughout the Boston medical community.

It can take a while to spot an addicted nurse on the job. After all, an addict's descent into addiction is typically slow and incremental. On the job, where they are responsible for patient care, an addicted nurse may be able to inflict substantial harm to their patients before ever drawing the patients' ire or the attention of those in supervisory roles.

Some nurses grappling with substance abuse issues may start diverting some of their patients' prescribed pain medications for their own use, causing their patients undue suffering from intractable pain at the reduced medication levels. Other nurses may work their shifts under the influence of narcotics and make life-threatening errors that put their patients in jeopardy.

But it doesn't take a life-or-death "never event" for patients to suffer because of their nurses' impairment. Is the reason the nurse keeps sticking you over and over for a usable vein to start an IV because your veins have collapsed or because the nurse's hands are too shaky to find and thread the needle into the vein?

When nurses work impaired, their patients suffer in ways both small and large. It is the most egregious of the mistakes that make the headlines, but the quality of patient care rendered will always take a hit when a nurse who isn't sober shows up to work a shift.

What can you do if nursing negligence caused or contributed to your worsened condition? We believe that one way of addressing the matter is to hold the negligent nurse and the facility that employs them legally and financially liable for the harm they cause to their patients.

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