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'My friend’s behaviour is putting patients at risk. How can I make her change?'


Do you have any advice for this student nurse?

“I’m worried about a fellow student nurse. We both started nursing in September last year and from the start she was a bit wild and sometimes took pills on nights out.

“Over the last couple of months she’s been completely out of control. She’s been staying out clubbing til 3 or 4 in the morning when she has placement the next day and she smokes cannabis from the second she wakes up in the morning. It feels like she’s always stoned.

“Obviously, telling university isn’t an option because I don’t want her to get kicked off the course. She doesn’t think there’s a problem so I feel like I have to do something to make her realise the effect this could be having on her patients.”

“What should I do?!”

Anonymous, Manchester


Please use the comments section below to share your advice

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Readers' comments (5)

  • As hard as it might be you should report your friend to the university. Not telling because you don't want to get her kicked off the course is not a good enough reason - you are potentially putting patients lives at risk and being negligent by not saying anything... Have you thought about letting them know anonymously?

    Whilst we are only student nurses we are also governed by the code of conduct that stipulates we should protect those in our care. How would you feel if your friend made a fatal/major error and it happened because she was stoned?

    Not only that, perhaps your friend needs some help to get over a drug problem. She may not realise she has a problem.

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  • I agree with the comment above and you are helping her and protecting vulnerable patients and making it easier for yourself and everybody else involved by taking early action rather than leaving the problem to fester. it sounds as it your friend needs help, possibly professional, and without which the things will get worse and will be a sure way she could be thrown off the course. with early appropriate help she may be able to continue her studies.

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  • I suggest that you first tackle your friend and encourage her to seek help with her problem, because that is what it is. Tell her that if she does nothing then you will have no option but to speak to senior lecturers at university as you are covered by the professional code that the NMC has devised for the protection of patients and colleagues even though you are a students. This will be the first of many situations that you will be exposed to in your chosen profession and your friends behaviour is irresponsible and she is endangering patients safety with her current behaviour.

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  • How would you feel if this nurse was treating one of your family members....would you speak up then? In nursing we are confronted by many challenging situations. You have to be professional and put the best interests of the patients first. You have a duty of care to your patients and they must be your first concern. Have a look at the NMC guidelines for raising not only will be a useful guide over the next 3 years but it will help you to understand what your responsibilities are in this kind of situation.

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  • To echo everyone else- you have a duty of care. To be honest, if there have been no direct consequences of her behaviour on patient care so far, the university would probably try to support her in addressing her problem initially rather than kick her off the course immediately. You dont have to be completely explicit, perhaps you could tell the university you are worried about her behaviour, staying out late, you 'suspect' she may be either taking substances or drinking to excess.. they will still look into it without you feeling like youve completely gone behind her back. It may just be enough to scare her into action. You do need to say something though, to prevent something terrible from happening. Also think of your friend, she might need some kind of supportive input but may not be in a position to ask for it herself right now. Also If something happened in practice to endanger a patient and she ended up being removed from the programme, imagine how she would feel. Saying something now will protect both her and the patients in the long run. Good luck! :-)

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