When researching how the professional organizations in relation to social services answered the queries on training, educational knowledge, or practice of reporting to social services, many interesting differences were discovered. Nurses in the industry had the lowest average work history in this profession, while within the practice (Table 2), which shows a high level of turnover within the practice, indicates a higher level of training and experience for nurses compared to those who do not have social service-related employment.
There are several situations in the professional organization when the need for reporting to the state is identified. For instance, a nurse has been employed for a certain amount of time with a community hospital and is required by law to report to social service agencies upon the conclusion of his or her employment.
Another situation for reporting to the state is when a health care provider is in an acute care hospital setting and works under a contract with a hospital. The contract provides that once the health care provider begins the shift, he or she must report to the hospital to get a state-mandated change in staffing. Most health care providers are not able to be reimbursed for the additional days of work provided for under these contracts, which are only available for contracted employees.
In addition, some physicians have reported that they feel “undervalued” by their patients and state that they feel as though they have “no say” over their care, which is a reflection of their experience of being “understaffed” at their primary care offices. This report by a physician could be a result of being understaffed in the practice, which can occur due to a number of factors, including a lack of communication within the organization to the staff or patient. This lack of communication is often caused by a lack of knowledge on the part of the physician, which results in the provider being unable to convey his or her needs and desires to the staff, resulting in a decreased level of patient satisfaction and care. In the case of having to report to social service agencies in order to get the necessary changes, it could be a result of a lack of training on the part of the patient’s care provider.
There are other situations that are not as straightforward and require more than just being a health care provider. The State of California, for example, requires health care providers to report to state-mandated drug treatment programs to receive treatment for substance abuse and/or a misdemeanor crime. This may occur when the patient is suspected of having an addiction to a controlled substance, or committing a crime such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or possessing drugs, even if the patient is not currently doing so. Asking for a change in scheduling can result in criminal prosecution.
Drug abusers and substance abusers often go to prison, jail, or have serious consequences in their lives. When a drug or alcohol user seeks treatment for a specific addiction, there are strict requirements that must be met, such as a referral to an appropriate treatment facility. These requirements often include having a history of drug abuse or substance abuse, having no prior convictions, not currently having a felony record, being 18 years of age or older, and being able to demonstrate that a drug user or alcohol abuser is currently receiving treatment at the recommended treatment center.
A physician may be required to meet with a staff counselor, which is responsible for documenting the medical history of the patient, providing information about any past or current drug abuse and/or substance abuse, and documenting the physical ailments of the patient, as well as a recommendation to see a specialist at the treatment facility that will be provided in order to provide a medical evaluation for the treatment or rehabilitation plan. These types of requirements are typically in compliance with the Physician Billing Code, which is a code of ethics that all physicians and nurses must adhere to.
Regardless of the reason for requiring reporting to these agencies, having to take a leave from work to report to a health care provider can be financially difficult. Many employers are not keen on this type of work and many of the time employees that need to report for these purposes are not happy with the situation. In cases where the reason for reporting to a social service agency is related to substance abuse or a misdemeanor crime, it may cause an employer to terminate an employee, which can also cause stress on an already strained employer.