Chemical dependency: hospital not required to accommodate restrictions re narcotics, no disability discrimination.

Position:Dovenmuehler v. St. Cloud Hosp.,

After she was fired for diverting narcotics a nurse reported herself to the state department of health.

The department set up a supervised-access plan she and any subsequent employer had to follow for 2000 hours to ensure that she practiced safely with regard to accessing and dispensing narcotics.

For her next new job she provided the hospital's occupational health department with a medical history candid in all respects except for her background with narcotics.

Six weeks into her new job, a staff nursing position in pediatric intensive care, she informed occupational health for the first time that she was fired from her last position for theft of narcotics and had practice restrictions from the state department of health.

Employer Chose Not To Accommodate Nursing Practice Restrictions

When her supervisors learned all the details they believed supervised access to narcotics would basically mean another nurse would have to shadow her at all times.

Supervised access was not feasible. The unit's pediatric patients needed their routine narcotics on schedule and could require emergency narcotics at any time. A child would not notice or be a good historian for missed medications or other irregular conduct by a nurse. The private rooms on the unit were ideal for an impaired nurse to hide devious activities from other staff.

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit supported the hospital's decision to terminate the nurse rather than accommodate her practice restrictions. That is, the hospital did not commit disability discrimination, the court said.

It did not sway the court's...

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