The article “Good policy or bad medicine” by Diane Cochran (May 23 Gazette Page 1A) was interesting but provided a biased view of a very important topic — substance abuse among health care providers. In reading the article, I had more questions than answers:
1) I wondered why “medicine” was highlighted when the profession of nursing is distinct and separate from the medical profession? 2) I wondered why the nursing profession was singled out rather than focusing on substance abuse problems among all health care providers? 3) I also wondered why the Montana Nurses Association (the professional association for nurses in Montana) was not contacted for their view on the subject?
In addition, it is important to highlight that substance abuse is a disease that requires treatment and should be treated as such. I would suspect that, if the United States provided reasonably priced treatment programs in sufficient numbers that the prevalence of substance abuse would plummet as would the crime rate associated with this disease. The nursing profession has chosen to treat nurses, who suffer from substance abuse, as individuals needing treatment rather than as criminals. Perhaps, the state and the country would be better off if everyone had the same view?
Dr. Christina Sieloff