Aureus Medical shares information on how travel nurses can talk to patients about substance abuse

Omaha, NE (February 11, 2016) - Drug and alcohol abuse is a prevalent issue across many age groups, which means any healthcare worker, including a travel nurse, might encounter patients battling addictions at some point in his or her career. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 9.3 percent of individuals ages 12 and older needed substance abuse treatment in 2009, which is equivalent to about 23.5 million people.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids explained that the International Nurses Society on Addictions wants to encourage more of these healthcare professionals to talk to patients about substance abuse. Nurses can naturally go about creating a discussion about substance abuse in a manner that coincides with the IntNSA-approved method – Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT).

Here is how travel nurses can better utilize SBIRT:

Conduct a quick drug and alcohol screening
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explained that the screening process should serve as a means to determine the severity of the abuse and potential treatment options. Nurses can use a combination of professionalism and compassion when asking these questions, as they are generally intense by nature. However, the main purpose is to get an honest and comprehensive answer from patients.

The National Institutes of Health advised healthcare professionals ask the following questions:

  • How many alcoholic drinks do you consume per day or week?
  • Are you taking prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons?
  • Are you using illegal drugs?

Many adults drink alcohol, and doing so in moderation isn't necessarily a cause for concern. As such, it's important to evaluate patient behaviors against a margin. Of course, people should never use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons, but acceptable alcohol use has more flexibility.

According to the National Institutes of Health, consuming three alcohol beverages in a day and seven or less in a week constitutes as low-risk drinking for women. Men, on the other hand, can consume four alcoholic drinks per day and no more than 14 each week to remain in the low-risk zone. Meanwhile, nurses can categorize heavy drinking habits if patients consume five or more drinks on a single occasion.

Even for low-risk drinkers, nurses may want to ask follow-up questions about their habits. For instance, does the person frequently drive home from the bar? Has the individual injured him or herself while intoxicated? Is the patient pregnant? These questions can help healthcare professionals better understand the scope of the problem if it exists.

Read the full article for more on travel nurses utilizing SBIRT.

About Aureus Medical Group:

Aureus Medical Group is a national leader in healthcare staffing specializing in the successful placement of Nursing, Advanced Practice, Cardiopulmonary, Diagnostic Imaging, Medical Laboratory, Neurodiagnostics, Radiation Oncology, and Rehabilitation Therapy professionals, as well as Physicians, in hospitals and medical facilities nationwide.  With more than 30 years of experience, Aureus Medical offers a full range of staffing options, including national contract (travel), local contract, and direct hire.  Aureus Medical is the largest affiliate of Omaha-based C&A Industries, a leading provider of human capital management solutions for more than 45 years.