In Shock about Missing Narcotics

  1. I am really struggling with this situation..i hope to get some advice or support on this. Here is what happened.
    I am currently covering for our DON who is out on leave. i also work as a nurse manager. I was working on monthly "change over" for the long term care facility i work at. i found two residents in a row that had "new order" for certain narcotics that showed up on the change over. But...when i looked in the chart, mar, narc drawer, and narc book, i found no evidence of these residents having such drugs. One of the residents was alert and oriented and she never took anything but vicoden for pain and that pain lately was at a minimum. she denied ever taking "oxycodone"..same with her roomate..who also had a "new order". So i called pharmacy thinking it was a mistake. Well it wasn't a mistake. They faxed me the original "schedule II" orders. i soon discovered who did it. It was a fellow nurse manager. I still tried to give the benefit of the doubt and thought she made a mistake and forgot to put it on the charts. (I always try to assume the best about we were kind of friends). she is notorious for leaving stuff that should be in charts all over her desk so i started looking for the originals. Well..not only did i find the originals..but i found many others. as acting DON..i felt obligated to look into all of them..and i found that no one had orders in the chart, mar, no drugs in the narc box, and no count sheets in the narc book. All of these orders were "drop ships" instead of regularly sheduled for evening delivery. I called the pharmacy back and they were able to give me proof that the drugs were sent (most of them were oxycodone). Some of them were signed by floor nurses but when they discovered that the resident had no order..they went to this nurse manager and she said she would take care of it. They never questioned her. Pharmacy still saw these as current orders and none were sent back. I discussed with our administrator and she had her suspended pending further investigation. The doctor who supposedly "signed" these orders was on vacation so we couldn't ask him yet..When they checked her desk after suspension they found more orders. several were for a certain drug that she denied ever hearing of when we questioned her prior to suspension. (she denied everything of course). There were also blank "signed" by the doctor schedule II forms. until the doctor comes back we can't really tell if he did it or if she was practicing his signature.
    Well..the bottom line here all points to her. all statements from other nurses point to her. But I am Devastated!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i feel scared for telling on her, especially since i trusted her and used to befriend her. What if there is some logical explaination for this? ( i know that sounds stupid at this point...but i am a nervous wreck!)
    The BON is coming to investigate, as well as board of pharmacy. The pharmacist consultant and administrator all feel "proud" of me for bringing it to their attention. I am not proud at all..i feel sick to my stomach and can't sleep. it hurts because she already has a bad home life and a baby at home and another on the way..What if i ruined her life if it turns out she really didn't do it?
  2. Visit LHH1996 profile page

    About LHH1996

    Joined: Feb '09; Posts: 93; Likes: 100
    from US
    Specialty: 13 year(s) of experience in Acute Care/ LTC


  3. by   madwife2002
    I feel for you, it is not nice having to come forward when you have a complaint against a collegue. With so many missing meds it seems hard evidence to dispute-if she is innocent then she will have a full explaination. If she has no reason or excuse then I am afraid it was just a matter of time before she got caught. You did not ruin her life she did it herself.
  4. by   gentlegiver
    If she is innocent then it will show up in the investigation. She will be cleared, and can proceed with her life.

    If she is not, then maybe she will get the help she needs to straighten out her life. I know it will be hard, but, try to look at this as a positive thing. If she did this, you helped both her and her children. After if she is taking those drugs, then she is endangering not only her life but the lives of her children. You did your friend a favor by finding & reporting this.
  5. by   canoehead
    I'm sorry you found it, but I'm not sorry it was found. She needs help. You are getting her help, everything else is consequence for falsifying records. You may not have her as a friend again, but you saved her life. You did a good thing, though I'm sure it feels like rot. Hugs.
  6. by   Equinox_93
    First of all- understand- YOU didn't ruin anyone's life. SHE did if she is guilty. She has responsibility for her own actions- just as you have responsibility over yours. Had you NOT looked into this- as you should have- chances are you could have been in trouble for failing to report it and lost your own license. If there is a reasonable explaination- it will be found during the investigation. If not, you did the right thing. It's understandable to be upset about it- as you are dealing with a breach of your trust. Dealing with a breach of trust- even on a professional level- (and this is both professional and personal as you said that you had befriended her) is going to cause you to go through a bit of the grieving process after something like this. So- allow yourself to feel your feelings- but don't be hard on yourself- you did the right thing.
  7. by   kellykelly
    Would you rather have her taking or selling these drugs illegally? You did the right thing. You can't feel too bad for her, she did it to herself.
  8. by   netglow
    You did the right thing, now you have to look after your own stress level... make sure that you get some intervention for your anxiety before her problem takes more of a toll on you. Its also such a hit, to find someone so different than you had thought... makes you question your judgment in friendships. Remember those that have a lot to hide, get really good at appearing normal.

    Take it slow, day by day... take care of you! :heartbeat
  9. by   FireStarterRN
    As Canoehead said, you did the right thing by uncovering this. It all sounds very incriminating and points to the unpleasant fact that this woman has a serious drug problem. You did the right thing by investigating the situation, gathering evidence, and reporting the problem.
  10. by   BelleKat
    LHH you didn't ruin her life you probably saved her life,her life is in a shambles because she has a major substance abuse problem and now she will get the help she needs. If she is using like that she is probably neglecting her kids and their home life is bad anyway. If you hadn't found this out substance abuse is a horrible deadly disease and the next step might have been someone finding her(one of her children?) dead in bed of an overdose.
    I know people are innocent until proven guilty and all that but that evidence is incredibly incriminating. And substance abusers can be quite nice people just like anyone else. I have been shocked when I found out people I knew were using,I didn't suspect a thing either.And if you hadn't found this out while you were covering for the DON your license would be on the line too.
    This doesn't say much for the DON though.
    I'm sorry that you were put in this situation.She betrayed you and all the nurses there. You didn't hurt anyone,you just did what you're supposed to do and you did a fine job of detective work too.
    Please be gentle with yourself and get some counseling even if it's just someone to talk to for a while. [[[Hugs]]]
  11. by   LHH1996
    Thanks to all who have kind and encouraging words. I know i shouldn't be second guessing so much especially with all the evidence. But like i said, THIS IS SO HARD!! Thanks for the support!
  12. by   WalkieTalkie
    Ugh, what a terrible situation. Obviously this lady has a problem, and many people have trusted her (heck, she's the one you would go to if you suspected a co-worker was diverting!). It's a crappy situation all around, and I really hope she gets the help she needed. Look at it this way: you have started her road to recovery, and at least you found it before something more serious happened, like an OD.

    I think you did everything right.
  13. by   heron
    There's a forum here for nurses in recovery ... take a little surf through it. There are many stories from nurses who have been in the same situation as your coworker. You might find it reassuring.

    It's by no means certain that your colleague will get help ... that's entirely up to her and you can't control that. But she might ... and you might have saved her life by dropping this dime.

    At the very least, you protected your patients, your other coworkers and the facility from further harm.

    So, I'll join the chorus ... you did good!
  14. by   Jenifer819
    As an RN, I am hypervigilant about making sure the proper documentation is provided when narcotics are ordered/given, as well as making sure I sign for them, etc. It is my nursing license that is on the line. I find it hard to believe that an innocent RN Manager would be so lax regarding narcotics? If she is innocent, then she has made a difficult case for herself.