I am a private duty nurse. Was recently asked by my very sick patient to go to his sister house and retrieve his pain medication which he had left there as he was almost out and also just wanted them back in his possession. I went and met his sister. On the way back to my patients home I was pulled over, not sure why but pulled over by the police nonetheless. When the police officer asked me if I had any drugs or weapons in my possession, I stated that yes I had my patients prescription and was on the way to delivering it him per his orders. I was then pulled out my my vehicle, cuffed and searched. The police found no other drugs of any sort on me near me or in my vehicle. On the road side standing there cuffed, the police asked me a variety of questions like why was my patient taking this particular medication, i refused to answer as it would violate my patients' right to privacy. They asked what was so wrong with my patient that he himself did not go and pick up the medication. Again I told the officer that I would not violate my patients' right to privacy. I was then read my Miranda rights and asked if i had anything further to say. I stated then that I wanted an attorney. That I had done nothing illegal. I was placed under arrest and charged with possession of a class B substance with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Mind you the medication was in my patients bottle, the proper med was in the bottle and the proper amount was in the bottle. I don't not understand how this could happen and even after my patient found out what had transpired he called the police to offer an interview either in person at his home or over the phone. The police have refused to do either. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?
Feb 7, '13
Wow - made me think!!! I hope other viewers will think seriously and cautiously about this type of situation before just trying to be helpful. Boy, just think how many of us have done something like this for family and friends!!
Wishing you well because it sounds like you have a mountain of legal uphill issues to be resolved.
Feb 8, '13
Wow! I got pulled over recently because the the CHP officer could not see my temporay registration paper on the windshield. I had it of course, and answered his questions about who I was and where I was going. I was en route to administer some medication to a home care patient. He even gave me directions and told me that he had the utmost respect for nurses. Ironically,a few days before a nurse had saved the life of his buddy, a CHP officer who had been shot.
I think they perceived you as resistant because you would not answer their questions. What do they know about HIPAA. Could you have showed them your licnese and then answered their questions without violating the rights of your patient ie "I have a very ill patient that is bed-bound and unable to drive". I pick up prescriptions for my family members all the time and then transport them in my vehicle and this is not illegal to do so. Perhaps they thought you stole them and coupled with your perceived resistance they were being hard nosed because it seems extreme!
So what happened? Is it resolved?
Feb 8, '13
The police had all the information they needed to verify what I had told them right on the bottle itself. they never once still to this day have called my patient, his prescribing doctor, or the pharmacy. I just went to court for the second time today to resolve this and once again it was postponed. I can't believe it has even gone this far. I was doing my job, a part of my job I do almost everyday!
Feb 8, '13
So, obviously you were on the clock when this happened...what does your employer say about all of this? Does your agency have a policy that speaks to staff transportation/delivery of medications?
It seems sooooo odd that the police officer would arrest you like that...very odd indeed.
Feb 8, '13
Yes- I was on the clock, but I do not work for an agency. I work private duty. The patient or the family of the patient hire me to work. My patient and his family are outraged with the police for this incident and have filed a compliant about the officers involved with the police department. Also my patients medication was seized when they arrested me and have not and stated that they WILL not be returning the medication to my patient. I am seething, partially because I cannot believe I was arrested for doing my job and totally operating within my scope of practice but more so because my patient suffered because of this. He had to go without his much needed pain medication until the doctor could write a new one and then had to pay for the replacement because insurance would not cover it.
I have been doing this type for work for years, first as a CNA then as a nurse. As a CNA I would often pick up the prescription and deliver it the nurse so she could fill the med box. Now, as a nurse I pick up patient medications from the pharmacy or doctor office, bring the medication to the the patients' residence and I fill the med box and administer the medication to the patient and log time dosage and affect of medication (especially pain medication 15 and 30 min after admin). I ALWAYS count the medications at the pharmacy to make sure there is what is supposed to be there (pharmacists can make mistakes with counts) never hurts to double check! I do a narc count at the beginning of my shift and at the end with either the nurse I am relieving or the nurse that is relieving me. We count- together- log: date time and count then sign our names. Even thought I do not work at an agency I take every precaution to protect my patient from narc seekers- including the patients family, unfortunately in some cases
. I keep the medication in a safe. One key is passed on shift to shift and there are 2 spare keys. I have always worked hard to protect any and all of my patients privacy and when I was road side I explained to the officers that I had a duty to protect my patients privacy but that if necessary the information they needed to corroborate my actions was all ON MY PATIENTS bottle! I don't know what more I could have done. I live in a small town so privacy of my patients info is of utmost importance, as information spreads easy and police in my town are not known for their discretion. They are the gossip mill!
Feb 8, '13
we transport medications for our hospice patients all the time...nurses, msw's, chaplains, aides, volunteers, office staff, etc.
I have requested that the meds be stapled in the pharmacy bag and that the staff get a signed receipt from the patient.
Your experience is a bit unnerving.
Feb 8, '13
I'm hoping that you have legal representation. Also malpractice insurance
- maybe they could help you?
Don't know where you live/practice but the police force sounds like something you'd watch on old TV shows!!!
Feb 9, '13
I am appalled at the ignorance of law enforcement where you live! I would downright angry as well and I think I would sue once they cleared me and they will clear you!
Feb 9, '13
That's crazy! Please keep us updated on what happens
~ No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent -Eleanor Roosevelt ~
Jan 24, '14
UPDATE!!! My case made it all the way to trial. My patient was angry that I had been through the humiliation of being arrested and that his medication was confiscated, also he was even more so at the fact that the police NEVER contacted him to either interview him or even notify him that his medication had been taken into evidence. He made a good point when he asked "why, if the police believed that I had done something illegal by having his medication in my possession, did the police never contact him?" In any case, my patient despite being in very poor health and on hospice, came to court to testify on my behalf. The jury came back after a short break and had a question for the judge "Is it legal for a nurse to have possession of a patients medication, as long as the nurse is under the direction of the patient?" The judge answered simply this: "If you find that the she (meaning me) was acting in her role as a nurse then yes, she would be in legal possession of the medication." The jury came back 15 minutes later with the verdict of NOT GUILTY. This was a learning lesson to say the least. I have still continued to pick up all my patients medications regardless of how they are classed. I have not allowed the small town politics to dictate the level of care my patients receive. My patients and their families have bigger fish to fry being on hospice and they really should not have to worry about who will be able to pick up meds OR whether or not their nurse will be humiliated on the side of the road in the process of doing her job. I now carry a letter from each patient that I transport meds for stating that I am doing so under the consent of the prescribed and the prescribing doctor (to cover my patients and my a$$). I am now researching ways to enact a law that prevents this from ever happening to ANY nurse again in my state, if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment. I am determined that this not happen again to anyone in our profession. We have lives to save and people to comfort and a quality of life to help establish and maintain for our patients and ourselves! Thank all!!!
Jan 25, '14
Thanks for the update. I knew you would get cleared because you did nothing illegal. You did something compassionate in the line of duty to help another human being! You can be my nurse anytime. I would sue them for all the trauma and emotional distress they they caused you and I am not the sue happy kind of person!
Jan 25, '14
Another 'thank you' for the update.
And a big hurrah for your attempt to take the system to task for improvement. Might you contact a legislator for an interview to describe all that occurred? It would help if the legislator were a health care provider also. I'm thinking of contacting an assemblyman/MD from my neck of the woods for an issue that I believe his medical background would better understand.
Must Read Topics