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.
    shouse82 likes this.
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  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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


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