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What can I do go get back on the schedule at work after an arrest for driving while intoxicated? I called the state board and reported the arrest myself.

Friday October 25, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I was arrested for driving while intoxicated a few weeks ago. I reported the incident to the state board the following day. I don't have a problem with alcohol; I just made a stupid decision.

The hospital where I have worked for more than eight years called to tell me they can't put me on the schedule because they have concerns about my judgment because of the DWI. The director of nursing told me that "everyone has issues, and yours led to a DWI," insinuating I have an issue
with alcohol.

He also said that someone said they thought they smelled alcohol on me at work one day, which is absolutely ludicrous. If that was true, someone should have reported it to have me tested rather than allowing me to work for 12 hours. He also said when human resources called the board, they found no record of me reporting it. I informed him I have letters from the board showing that I did. I already know where the rumor started, but the hospital cannot confirm that because of employee confidentiality. I feel sick about it because I have worked hard and earned the respect of the doctors over the years and I absolutely love where I work.

Becky



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Becky:

You should be commended for reporting the DWI to the board of nursing. When a situation is required to be reported by a nurse licensee, the board looks favorably on self-reporting. This does not mean that no action may be taken against the nurse for whatever violation of the nurse practice act was reported, but it does speak to your willingness to abide by the act and its rules and take responsibility for your actions.

As far as the employment situation goes, you might want to consider a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney to evaluate how you might be able to handle the current difficulties you are experiencing. The allegation of smelling alcohol on your breath while at work is a serious one, as you know, and the attorney may be able to help dispel this allegation, especially if employees are required to report such a concern to those in charge so that a test can be done. Be sure to take a copy of the employee handbook and any applicable policies concerning employees and reporting to work under the influence of any chemical substance, employee responsibilities when this is suspected and the process for filing an employee grievance.

It is unclear what you mean by not being able to confirm how the rumor got started due to "employee confidentiality,” but speaking with your attorney about this certainly will be important.

Cordially,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.