Nurses Diverting Drugs?

  1. How big is this problem really? Is it bigger than we think? I am graduating in May and started a 3 week preceptorship on Saturday. My preceptor told me that they had 2 RNs last month that just got fired from narcotic drug diversion. She stated that this is a huge problem that no one talks about. I still can't see how this happens so easy when you have to count and recount the narc's.
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  2. 55 Comments

  3. by   dawngloves
    Do you mean stealing narcs?I'm sure it's a problem, but I've only seen it once. You will get caught because of things like narc counts and Pixus. And believe me, everyone will talk about it over and over....
  4. by   tonchitoRN
    seen it happen a few times. admin. covered it up.
  5. by   sbic56
    Narc diversion is a big problem. I have been involved in uncovering occurances twice, so have learned some of the tricks used.

    There are ways to take drugs w/o messing up the count:

    Be aware of the nurse who may frequently "accidently" break and ampule and ask you to countersign the "waste".

    Or the patient that is supposed to be getting Tylenol #3, but doesn't get pain relief. She could be getting plain Tylenol.

    It is possible to withdraw the narcotic, replace it with NS and return it to the narcotic stock.

    Sad, but true...someone with a real problem will resort to these tactics. Suprising how long they can get away with it for a long time before getting caught, too.
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I have seen it once in 6 years. I dont' know how common it is. I like to think it is an aberrant occurence, but fear not. The situation I saw got ugly and the nurse was given a 2nd chance to rehabilitate but chose not to take them up on it and diverted anyhow. So last I know of, she had her license suspended and is not working as an RN right now. Shame and a waste; she was a good, experienced and knowledgeable nurse, but diverting meds is unforgiveable to me. Two reasons: one you are taking pain meds from people in PAIN who NEED them; two, you are dulling your own senses and reflexes, opening yourself and your patients/coworkers up (possibly) to huge errors and potential injury as a result. Even if we leave out the honesty aspect, those two things are wrong enough in my eyes.
  7. by   MandyInMS
    I'd like to share a very sad/sobering experience that still bothers me.I worked in ICU in a small rural hospital with another nurse for about a year and a half..she being the RN, myself the LPN.The most fun person in the world to work with.We became great friends.Everyone loved her bubbley personality.Towards the end she seemed a little different.Nothing that you could really put your finger on ..just different..not as happy, more tired/sleepy @ work, which working nights we all just blew off as lack of sleep..and she was having some marriage problems.Also noticing that the pts reqired a little more narcotics on our shift than the others.The patients got relief when administered though..Still, this lil voice was telling me that something wasn't right.My supervisor and I are good friends as well..we discussed this a couple of times and she and I both chalked it off to sleep/marriage problems.Still my gut was telling me something was wrong..I had no proof though..so I said nothing else about it.Had I had proof I wouldn't have hessitated to report.It put me in a very awkward position..I would never want to falsely accuse anyone without facts behind my accusations..or at least an eye witness account of something.I only wish on October 4th,2002 I would have said something...even without proof.My dear friend left work(she had an hour and a half drive home) and was killed in a car crash.It was said she looked as though she was asleep at the wheel/slumped over.Her family later said a syringe was found in her pocket at the scene.Never was tested to my knowledge.But I KNOW in my heart she was using something.This still bothers me terribly...maybe if I had insisted on drug screen...or done something more...I dunno....From that day forward I promised if my gut was telling me something I'd listen..she was only 33 years old and I still miss her so very much....Message to all out there...if you suspect something your gut is almost always right..listen to it .
    Last edit by MandyInMS on Apr 30, '03
  8. by   P_RN
    That is so sad. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
  9. by   Rapheal
    Are you SERIOUS with this thread? The reason I ask is that I had replied to one of your other threads about nursing student addictions, and have read others you started such as dependency in nursing and the one about about whether someone can obtain online narc scripts. I really think you should have obtained your answer from your previous threads.
  10. by   CCL"Babe"
    Are you SERIOUS with this thread? The reason I ask is that I had replied to one of your other threads about nursing student addictions, and have read others you started such as dependency in nursing and the one about about whether someone can obtain online narc scripts. I really think you should have obtained your answer from your previous threads.


    Interesting point Rapheal. I'm starting to wonder why all the questions on this and related topics.
  11. by   P_RN
    Raphael whay are you being so harsh??. I reviewed the posts and there were only 4 as I recall. I believe one of those was about a family member with a problem.

    I believe it is a larger a problem from say 20 years ago. That's not to say people aren't taking more drugs. Their sources have changed.

    The pyxis type storage is a good thing. But to my horror about 3 months after we got it some one stole my code and checked out several percocets. I was investigated and questioned for over an hour.

    The focus was on a new LPN who was caught stealing the same med when she worked on another floor, She got rehab and then a job in the clinic supposedly out of the temptation. She learned how to use the script writer and got the docs DEA codes. By then with all her slips and falls she gave herself away. I think she is still without her license.

    I've see this many times, but I never seem to catch them. I m just a trusting person,
    Last edit by P_RN on Apr 9, '03
  12. by   OrthoNutter
    Originally posted by sbic56
    It is possible to withdraw the narcotic, replace it with NS and return it to the narcotic stock.
    How do you do that with a glass ampoule???
  13. by   FullMoonMadness
    We had a nurse do this. She logged out the prefilled Morhine syringes,withdrew the drugs and refilled with saline.She also had a bad habit of not logging out of the AcuDose.If you have ever been involved in an ivestigation reguarding missing narcs,the experience stays with you forever.Heads up.
  14. by   Rapheal
    Why am I being so harsh? I care about my patients. And when a thread like this is started (more than once), people respond (innocently) by giving information on tactics that nurses have used to divert narcotics.

    Do you follow what I am saying?

    Sorry if you think I am being harsh. I just do not like to see narcotic diversion techniques being spelled out on the BB. However, this BB does encourage discussion, and it is everyone's right to respond if they like, just like it is Jfpruitt's right to pose this type of question in various forms as many times as he likes.
    Last edit by Rapheal on Apr 9, '03

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