Nurses Who Are Drug Addicts

  1. 1 I work with a nurse who I suspect is using drugs, and I think she is stealing them from the facility. Of those of you that have encountered this problem, what were the signs and symptoms? Thanks.
  2. Visit  jill48 profile page

    About jill48

    From 'Missouri'; 41 Years Old; Joined Oct '06; Posts: 687; Likes: 27.

    215 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  PANurseRN1 profile page
    2
    What are you seeing that makes you suspect she's diverting? If you have strong suspicions you shouldn't need to be asking for signs.

    You had better have all of your ducks in a row before you even think of making an accusation. Wrongfully or maliciously accusing someone of diversion is not looked upon favorably by employers or the BON.
  4. Visit  chenoaspirit profile page
    0
    If you suspect this, it is your duty to report it. Why do you think he is using drugs? Im not sure what s/s to look for other than what you would expect from anyone who uses drugs.
  5. Visit  burn out profile page
    1
    If you think someone is stealing the drugs you need to report it for no other reason than to clear yourself becasue if you think it is going on I am sure there are others that are suspicous too and may think it is you.

    The time that I have found out that co workers were stealing drugs I was
    very surprised at first then I looked back at some of the triggers I should have picked up on. The first time involved a male nurse and we used to laugh because when he bathed a patient he never rolled his sleeves up ( and he ALWAYS wore long sleeves...to hide the track marks).

    The second time a coworker was fired for stealling drugs was trickey-er. This time she was not the user but was stealing drugs for her boyfriend. Looking back the only clue that I can see is that her patients were always
    rowdy and complaining of pain and unsatisfied..the nights that she worked were always more heckit than other nights.

    In both instances they were LPN's that would give the medicine for the RN and have her to one way or another chart it or sign for it which implicated alot of people and made it harder to track them down. This is why I do not like to work with nor do I think rehabiliated drug users need to be floor nurses.

    I good way to check is to ask the patient after the pain med has been signed out if he received his pain med and did it help.
    Last edit by burn out on Jan 2, '07 : Reason: add to
    pattycakeRN likes this.
  6. Visit  Cattitude profile page
    6
    I have been a nurse for over 10 yrs and I am also an addict. Thank goodness I am recovering. Yes you need to address this but very carefully. Why? Well suspicion does not make it fact. What if you are wrong? You could potentially wreck someone's career.

    So... say your suspicions are true... Please go to your manager first. She will know what to do. In most states ther are programs designed to assist nurses with substance abuse/alcohol problems. Whatever you do, please do NOT report this to your state's BON. If this is needed, your manager/facility will do this. The manager/facility should be well informed about how to handle theses situations. So by notifying them, you can rest easy and feel that you have done your part in keeping patients safe.

    One other tidbit... Not EVERY nurse that steals drugs takes from patients. I didn't. I was still very sick and very wrong in my disease and thank the stars that I did give my patients the meds that were ordered for them. I don'y judge the nurses that did, I just barely escaped progressing to that point. Addiction is a horrible disease an rampant in our profession. I wish that more of us would be supportive when you find out that "Jim" or "Sarah" has a problem. It really can happen to anyone...


    Beez
  7. Visit  Lacie profile page
    3
    Quote from burn out
    This is why I do not like to work with nor do I think rehabiliated drug users need to be floor nurses.
    I whole heartedly agree with CASbeezgirlRN. I have seen too many times false accusations or pure "assumptions" cost careers needlessly. Also in regards to the above quote - I have known more nurses that dont have drug problems who are quite incompetent and have no business being nurses more so then those I have seen that are as you call it "rehabilitated drug addicts". So stereotypical and you never know when you may find yourself in the same situation. Ever had chronic pain? Im not saying it's ok but I'll dang sure not judge. I also have known rehabilitated nurses who were excellent nurses and came back to be just that and more.
  8. Visit  Cattitude profile page
    2
    Quote from lacie
    i whole heartedly agree with casbeezgirlrn. i have seen too many times false accusations or pure "assumptions" cost careers needlessly. also in regards to the above quote - i have known more nurses that dont have drug problems who are quite incompetent and have no business being nurses more so then those i have seen that are as you call it "rehabilitated drug addicts". so stereotypical and you never know when you may find yourself in the same situation. ever had chronic pain? im not saying it's ok but i'll dang sure not judge. i also have known rehabilitated nurses who were excellent nurses and came back to be just that and more.


    thank you lacie. it is greatly appreciated to read that post. i wish nurses wouldn't be so quick to condemn each other for what truly is a disease.
    i know many, many people in recovery that work in all kinds of areas (not just nurses.) could you imagine what this world would be like if all recovering addicts/alcoholics stuck to working in rehabs? there would be a lot of shortages in the workforce!

    while yes it is true that recidivism is always a possibility, so is the hope for a clean, caring, hard working nurse. and i too know of quite a few incompetent nurses that never had any substance abuse issues, we still have to work with them.

    again, thank you lacie. it's nurses like you that give me the courage to post that i am a recovering addict and a nurse on a message board for all the world to see. a year ago, i could never have done that, the shame and despair were crippling. now i hold my head up once again.

    beez
    blueheaven and margom like this.
  9. Visit  rn/writer profile page
    0
    Speak with your nurse manager as soon as you can. Just as in your charting, state what you have observed, not what you think it means. Let the NM draw her own conclusions. This way, you are not making any accusations, just sharing what you have seen.
  10. Visit  chase4myheart profile page
    2
    Quote from burn out
    If you think someone is stealing the drugs you need to report it for no other reason than to clear yourself becasue if you think it is going on I am sure there are others that are suspicous too and may think it is you.

    The time that I have found out that co workers were stealing drugs I was
    very surprised at first then I looked back at some of the triggers I should have picked up on. The first time involved a male nurse and we used to laugh because when he bathed a patient he never rolled his sleeves up ( and he ALWAYS wore long sleeves...to hide the track marks).

    The second time a coworker was fired for stealling drugs was trickey-er. This time she was not the user but was stealing drugs for her boyfriend. Looking back the only clue that I can see is that her patients were always
    rowdy and complaining of pain and unsatisfied..the nights that she worked were always more heckit than other nights.

    In both instances they were LPN's that would give the medicine for the RN and have her to one way or another chart it or sign for it which implicated alot of people and made it harder to track them down. This is why I do not like to work with nor do I think rehabiliated drug users need to be floor nurses.

    I good way to check is to ask the patient after the pain med has been signed out if he received his pain med and did it help.
    Please don't be so quick to judge recovering nurses who have sufferred from addiction. When I worked as a CNA, I worked with nurses who were recovering addicts and I worked with nurses who were just there for the paycheck. Who would I rather work with? The recovering addict anytime. They do not get off easy. They go to numerous meeting and have many stipulations placed on them by the BON. These nurses strive everyday to prove themselves just so they can care for others. It's very easy to judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. I sincerely hope that you never suffer the problem of addiction. I've had friends that have lost everything from their possessions to their loved ones, and still fought their way back to being a productive member of society. I think that takes strength and courage beyond a lot of our imaginations. For the person who suspects that someone is stealing drugs, please report it, but do it discretely. Report it to your supervisor and let her handle it from there. All of us have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot of things for our career. Your supervisor will make certain that this is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt before someone's license is placed in jeporady. Once it has been reported, you have done your duty. Let us know what happens.
    santababy52 and sharona97 like this.
  11. Visit  Dalzac profile page
    0
    Originally Posted by burn out
    This is why I do not like to work with nor do I think rehabiliated drug users need to be floor nurses.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have worked with nurses that felt that way. In fact I quit a job because my manager was like that she held my check every payday so I would have to give her a urine test to get my check. Not once did it come back dirty. I was in recovery and she thought I should never work again. She got fired for that.
    I also work (volunteer) with the BON here in peer asst., helping other nurses get clean and stay that way. And BTW I have been clean from all subtances including alcohol. So nowadays, you never know if your nurse is an addict or not Since most go to ANONYMOUS meetings somewhere.:angryfire
  12. Visit  JohnBearPA profile page
    0
    Quote from CASbeezgirlRN
    So... say your suspicions are true... Please go to your manager first. She will know what to do. In most states ther are programs designed to assist nurses with substance abuse/alcohol problems. Whatever you do, please do NOT report this to your state's BON. If this is needed, your manager/facility will do this. The manager/facility should be well informed about how to handle theses situations. So by notifying them, you can rest easy and feel that you have done your part in keeping patients safe.Beez
    I agree with going to your NM first, but believe me, not every facility reports to the BON. I worked with an RN at my LTC that was given the option of resigning from her last job instead of having it reported to the BON. This same nurse diverted drugs from her pt's at my facility, including my Mom, who was a pt there. I caught her literally slumped over her med cart, stoned out of her mind, knees locked to keep her upright, drooling so much there was a puddle on top of the cart, and reported it immediately to the DON, who came in, sent this nurse home, and again, gave her the option of resigning. I REPORTED HER to the BON when I found out that it wasn't going to be done by my facility.

    I did that for several reasons. One, I was PO'd that my mother, who was on hospice in end-stage vulvar ca, wasn't getting pain control, and two, if someone didn't step in, this nurse would have just gotten another job, and continued, possible hurting a pt or herself in the process. I was also SURE she was using, and didn't just go on a hunch. Had I had any doubts, I wouldn't have reported it.

    I've had the pleasure to work with some recovering nurses, and would rather work with a good recovering nurse any day than have a nurse that was only there for the paycheck. Also, my heart goes out to those recovering nurses. They constantly have to prove themselves, and are often the first to be blamed for anything, med related or not. God bless any recovering nurse that chooses to stay in the field, theirs is a constant battle I can not even imagine!
  13. Visit  Cattitude profile page
    0
    i am glad this thread is getting more replies and that they are supportive, believe me this is one recovering nurse that is grateful.

    johnbear, i am sorry that your mom was sick and caught in the middle of that horrible situation, it's amazing that you still have such a compassionate attitude towards recovering individuals, bless you.

    i guess there is no perfect solution, most nurses that i have spoken to say they that in hindsight they are glad they were caught, that it helped get them treatment.
    i have just heard horror stories of nurses being dragged out of facilities in handcuffs and i don't think it needs to happen like that.
    but i also don't think a nurse should just have the option of resigning and thats it. thats kind of what happened to me. i was given no information about any help, even though my facility had the info. they never reported me either.

    luckily, i got myself into a detox, then an outpt program specifically for nurses. i also do a peer program for nurses and 12 step. i found all this info on my own and all voluntary. i would have sought help much,much sooner if i hadn't been so afraid of 1) the repercussions 2) what other health professionals would think of me.

    so now, i am recovering and learning, and one day want to help other nurses in trouble....

    beez
    Last edit by Cattitude on Jan 7, '07 : Reason: too tired, makin' mistakes
  14. Visit  JohnBearPA profile page
    0
    I applaud all of the nurses that went and got help, whether it be voluntary or state mandated. Addiction is a disease, and needs to be treated as such. It can have a horrible stranglehold on people, and nurses are not immune. My father is an alcoholic, as are several people in my family, so I can understand the addiction.

    I have nothing but respect for nurses that recognised their addiction and sought help to overcome it. I applaud you CASbeezgirl, you not only sought help, but choose to help others in the same boat. God bless you, and thank you for helping others the way you do! You are certainly in my prayers.

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