Staff concerns rise after nurse hospitalized from drug smoke in patient room

Nurses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital are raising staff safety concerns after a nurse was exposed to narcotics smoke in a patient's room and had to be hospitalized, The San Francisco Standard reported March 27.

The publicly funded hospital has seen an increase in dangerous conditions due to drug use, according to the report. In this instance, the affected nurse walked in on a person who was incapacitated in a room full of drug smoke. The nurse fainted and displayed symptoms of a panic attack, according to hospital staff, and was admitted to the emergency department shortly after.

When asked about the reports, SF General Hospital confirmed it had reported the incident to OSHA but declined to provide further information. An internal email sent by a nursing supervisor to hospital staff, obtained by the publication, said the hospital acknowledged "recent issues" related to a "hospital-wide epidemic of complex substance use." The email stated a task force to address the issue of drug use in the hospital had been created and encouraged nurses to wear personal protective equipment.

"I think that we should definitely be able to meet people where they're at and give them the help that they can get," a nurse at General Hospital, who didn't want to be named for fear of retaliation, told the Standard. "But there's been so much finger-pointing at the nurses and we're all tired of it."

The hospital administration asserted that drug use isn't tolerated on the facility's premises; however, nurses say there are no clear protocols to enforce the policy. The hospital is aiming to revise its policies and implement clinical interventions, the hospital said in a statement to the Standard.

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