Suspicious of nurses and possible drug use? - page 2

Two nurses where I work have both waisted meds; 1 dropped a med and waisted without having a witness. The other nurse waisted a med and he didn't have a witness. I have suspicions about both of... Read More

  1. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks recovery nurses for your insights. I do have a question. If I wanted drugs I could go to a doctor and get a legal subscription for valium or codeine. I do wonder why nurses take the patient's pills when they could easily go to a doctor and get a legal subscription? Please enlighten me. Thanks
  2. by   Thunderwolf
    Document, forward your documentation with your report. Keep a copy for yourself.
  3. by   Ruby Vee
    it's really hard to know for sure whether your co-worker has a problem with drugs! i've been a nurse for 27 years, and although there were several times when i've found out that someone was diverting and using drugs after the fact, there was only once when i was astute enough to catch on before the official investigation!

    i worked with a nurse named kim who used to take frequent smoke breaks, was in the bathroom a lot, who was always signing out drugs for her patients (and mine and everyone else's) but whose patients never seemed to be adequately pain relieved. as it got worse, she'd be answer call lights for everyone in the icu and medicating their patients. (only those patients didn't always remember asking for or getting the medication.) a whole morphine drip disappeared. ("i threw it away after he died," was her reply.) she developed an attendance problem and would call in sick from a bar thirty minutes after her shift started. then two hours after her shift started.

    by this time, we were all documenting up a storm. but management couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it "because it could be a civil rights issue." (kim was our only african american rn). one day she came to work with slurred speech, unsteady gait and aob. the charge nurse, in her infinite wisdom, didn't send her home, but assigned me the assignment next to kim's with instructions to "watch over things." at one in the morning, kim is standing in the doorway of her patient's room, screaming at me -- i have no idea what started it or what it was about. she was incoherent. then she left.

    management still worried over the "civil rights issue," and kim stayed on the schedule. a week later, she went into the employee bathroom, aborted herself with a coat hanger, and started to hemorrhage. she then just walked off the unit without a word to anyway . . . the charge nurse followed the bloody footprints to the elevator. even though both of kim's patients had been documented as having recieved two doses of narcotics each, neither of them remembered seeing a nurse all shift. at this point she was put on administrative leave with pay. and kept that status for nine months!

    another time, we had a major problem with drugs turning up missing. there were major investigations, employees were interrogated by the dea. everyone was terrified. there was an atmosphere of suspician and recrimination and no one went near the narc drawer without a witness. when the investigation was all over and done with -- it's because the houskeeper noticed boxes and boxes of narcotics in the nurse manager's office . . . . the nurse manager was rewarded with a job in the education department.

    there has to be a better way to deal with the problem, but i just don't know what it is. document, document, document! and hope for better managers than i had!

    ruby
  4. by   EricTAMUCC-BSN
    Be careful...very careful. This is a serious allegation and without proof can come back to haunt you.

    I cannot agree more how serious it is to begin making accusations. You had better be 99 % sure that you are right and before talking to your manager you are obligated to confront this individual. Be preppared to be cross examined. good luck.
  5. by   southern_rn_brat
    Quote from EricTAMUCC-BSN
    Be careful...very careful. This is a serious allegation and without proof can come back to haunt you.

    I cannot agree more how serious it is to begin making accusations. You had better be 99 % sure that you are right and before talking to your manager you are obligated to confront this individual. Be preppared to be cross examined. good luck.
    How can you be obligated to confront them? As a nurse in recovery, I totally disagree! It is not the responsibility of my peers to confront me. That could in fact cause even more problems.

    Taking your suspicions to the nurse manager can be done confidentially. Confronting someone is not.

    As I said, the BON members that I talked to about this told me it is our DUTY to report ANY suspicious behavior. If this can't be done with the manager, it can always be done confidentially by calling your states peer program, or even logging into their websites.

    Confrontation, IMO, will only cause an explosive situation.
  6. by   EricTAMUCC-BSN
    Confrontation provides for a chance to change behavior and gives the person a chance to refute false allegations. Defamation is the act of presenting false information to a third party such as your manager and you can be counter sued.




    Quote from southern_rn_brat
    How can you be obligated to confront them? As a nurse in recovery, I totally disagree! It is not the responsibility of my peers to confront me. That could in fact cause even more problems.

    Taking your suspicions to the nurse manager can be done confidentially. Confronting someone is not.

    As I said, the BON members that I talked to about this told me it is our DUTY to report ANY suspicious behavior. If this can't be done with the manager, it can always be done confidentially by calling your states peer program, or even logging into their websites.

    Confrontation, IMO, will only cause an explosive situation.
  7. by   southern_rn_brat
    Quote from EricTAMUCC-BSN
    Confrontation provides for a chance to change behavior and gives the person a chance to refute false allegations. Defamation is the act of presenting false information to a third party such as your manager and you can be counter sued.
    Eric, I don't agree. If one of my peers had confronted me with my drug use, the only thing that would have come out of it would be that I would have totally lost it in anger and lied my way out of it.

    If I had had to answer to my manager, say with a drug test, it might have stopped me earlier.

    Confrontation by a peer would solve nothing.

    In fact, the few times that something like that happened to me, I raised enough he!l at MY manager because the person was "spreading rumors" about me, that I wasnt the one that got reprimanded, the innocent person did.

    Take it from an addict....confrontation solves nothing. Intervention by the company or the state will.

    If the person is innocent, a simple drug test would prove that. No harm done.

    Reporting it properly (confidentially to the state or the manager) might just save someone's life.
  8. by   EricTAMUCC-BSN
    bottom of the line, you are obligated to inform the person of your intended actions because not everyone is an addict.
  9. by   RHONDANURSE
    I once had a coworker who was also a friend of mine who developed a problem. She diverted narcotics by several different means. This went on for two years before she got caught. She was always known as a really hard worker, getting meds for everyone's patients, always the first to the orders, more than willing to what med you needed for you. I really thought a lot of this nurse. She was incredibly smart, knew everything about emergency nursing, if you had a question she was the one to ask. There were signs that in hindsight I see clearly, but at the time did not raise any suspiscion whatsoever. Perhaps I just didn't want to see them or maybe I was just really naive. Things like patients that she medicated never achieved pain relief, she called in frequently, she had several trips to the ER for "migraines", during these trips I would often take care of her, and it never occurred to me why it took a whole lot of narcs to relieve her pain. Now I look back and realize that all those meds she gave for others were only narcotics, she never picked up an antibiotic shot or iv fluids orders. To make a long story short, she got caught when she started writing verbal orders on patients after discharge and taking the chart straight to be broke down, charts that the doctor would not likely see again. Sadly, when confronted by our ER director who offered help before turning her in, she went on immediate FMLA. After DEA investigation charges were filed against her, her nursing liscense was suspended, she still refused to admit that there was a problem. In the end, as the DEA was coming with local law enforcement to arrest her, she took a gun and killed herself. So, I warn those who are for confrontation, this is something that should be handled confidentially by someone with training and experience in chemical dependancy.
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from RHONDANURSE
    I once had a coworker who was also a friend of mine who developed a problem. She diverted narcotics by several different means. This went on for two years before she got caught. She was always known as a really hard worker, getting meds for everyone's patients, always the first to the orders, more than willing to what med you needed for you. I really thought a lot of this nurse. She was incredibly smart, knew everything about emergency nursing, if you had a question she was the one to ask. There were signs that in hindsight I see clearly, but at the time did not raise any suspiscion whatsoever. Perhaps I just didn't want to see them or maybe I was just really naive. Things like patients that she medicated never achieved pain relief, she called in frequently, she had several trips to the ER for "migraines", during these trips I would often take care of her, and it never occurred to me why it took a whole lot of narcs to relieve her pain. Now I look back and realize that all those meds she gave for others were only narcotics, she never picked up an antibiotic shot or iv fluids orders. To make a long story short, she got caught when she started writing verbal orders on patients after discharge and taking the chart straight to be broke down, charts that the doctor would not likely see again. Sadly, when confronted by our ER director who offered help before turning her in, she went on immediate FMLA. After DEA investigation charges were filed against her, her nursing liscense was suspended, she still refused to admit that there was a problem. In the end, as the DEA was coming with local law enforcement to arrest her, she took a gun and killed herself. So, I warn those who are for confrontation, this is something that should be handled confidentially by someone with training and experience in chemical dependancy.

    wow what an incredibly sad story....all around. so sad.
  11. by   medpsychRN
    "As I said, the BON members that I talked to about this told me it is our DUTY to report ANY suspicious behavior. "


    I think it's helpful to know what is suspicious behavior. Two separate incidents of wasting meds by two separate people not having a witness, frequent trips to the BR and smoking doesn't seem like enough.

    Frequent call ins, (hey, what's management doing about this?), patients not getting adequate pain relief, mistakes, signs of being under the influence and of course missing meds are some signs.

    If I don't get enough sleep and then work a busy night, whew! by the time morning comes I am dead on my feet. I swear I could fall asleep standing up! I am on diuretics and in the BR frequently. My chronic pain patients complain chronically (!) about not getting pain relief. So I guess, just based on these 3 things I could be reported to the BON. If I was reported, well I'd be p*****. With the BON, you are guilty until proven innocent.

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