The opioid epidemic has received increasing attention as it reaches into communities across the country. One group it has long affected is healthcare professionals–nurses, physicians, and pharmacists, in particular, who may have easier access to prescription opioids. Often referred to as “impaired health professionals”, these caregivers may come to the attention of colleagues and health care organizations when they demonstrate erratic behavior or evidence of the misuse of opioids prescribed for patients is linked to the health professional.
The impaired professional may be reluctant to seek help or their colleagues may be unwilling to report them for fear of revocation of the person’s professional license to practice and, thus, their livelihood.
But many state boards that have the authority to issue and revoke professional licenses have responded to this concern by developing Peer Assistance Programs for the addicted person to get treatment and, sometimes, even continue to work under close supervision.
Kate Driscoll Malliarakis, PhD, APN-C, RN, is a leading advocate for Peer Assistance Programs, particularly in nursing, and spoke with me about impaired health professionals, peer assistance programs, and the new Surgeon General’s Report on Facing Addiction in America. Dr. Malliarakis is an Assistant Professor with the George Washington University School of Nursing. She is the President of KAM Associates, a health care consulting firm specializing in substance abuse and leadership issues. Dr. Malliarakis maintains a private counseling practice specializing in addictions and impaired health professionals.
You can listen to the interview here:
The interview aired on HealthCetera Radio on WBAI-FM on December 1, 2016.