RN's w/chronic pain, using narcotics - page 8

I am currently, and have been, for 3 years, taking oxycontin for chronic pain. My question is, Is is legal for a nurse to work while taking pain meds? I am unable to work, or hardly move unless I... Read More

  1. by   jewels123
    My story. My husband is an RN who was prescribed pain medication for chronic pain from a motorcycle accident 4 years ago. He tried for a long time to not take anything but over the counter. His life was interuppted, he was depressed, in pain and desperate. He went to a pain management Dr who prescribed a low dose of pain meds knowing he was a nurse. He has never been an addict but was scared to ask his Dr for a higher dose and wanted more relief. He made a wrong and horrible life altering choice by diverting some pain meds from work. This is the consequences of his actions. He was terminated. He was referred to our states diversion program. He is out of work and will not be able to work in nursing for quite some time. When back to work he will have to be monitored for up to 5 years including telling all potential employers of his previous actions. He is not allowed to take any pain medication that is prescription opiate or non opaite without paying for a $4000 neuro study to determine if he is imparied. There is no guarantee that even if it shows no impairment that he will be able to gain employment. He is working for a $10.00/hr college student job becuase all he has ever done is nursing. Our savings is gone, our bills are barely covered. Treatment, meetings, drug testing and other fees have to be paid montly in addition. I never knew that being a nurse would mean a choice between pain medication and your career.

    There was no excuse for his actions, it was wrong in so many ways morally and criminally. This post is for those who have taken that path or might consider it. Please "Stop, Think and Dont"
  2. by   gr8rnpjt
    Quote from jewels123
    My story. My husband is an RN who was prescribed pain medication for chronic pain from a motorcycle accident 4 years ago. He tried for a long time to not take anything but over the counter. His life was interuppted, he was depressed, in pain and desperate. He went to a pain management Dr who prescribed a low dose of pain meds knowing he was a nurse. He has never been an addict but was scared to ask his Dr for a higher dose and wanted more relief. He made a wrong and horrible life altering choice by diverting some pain meds from work. This is the consequences of his actions. He was terminated. He was referred to our states diversion program. He is out of work and will not be able to work in nursing for quite some time. When back to work he will have to be monitored for up to 5 years including telling all potential employers of his previous actions. He is not allowed to take any pain medication that is prescription opiate or non opaite without paying for a $4000 neuro study to determine if he is imparied. There is no guarantee that even if it shows no impairment that he will be able to gain employment. He is working for a $10.00/hr college student job becuase all he has ever done is nursing. Our savings is gone, our bills are barely covered. Treatment, meetings, drug testing and other fees have to be paid montly in addition. I never knew that being a nurse would mean a choice between pain medication and your career.

    There was no excuse for his actions, it was wrong in so many ways morally and criminally. This post is for those who have taken that path or might consider it. Please "Stop, Think and Dont"
    (((jewels123)))
    There but for the grace of God...
    If your husband hasn't found this forum yet, he may be interested. There is a lot of support out there:

    http://www.voy.com/140037/
  3. by   LilgirlRN
    Many people who take narcotics for chronic pain function just like anyone else, their medication does not make them foggy and in many instances opiates can act like medication for ADD and help people with a "bouncy" brain function better. This is neither here nor there, it's all about how the law reads. Here in AL, if you use narcotics and you get screened for whatever reason and you don't have an RX for it, you can really get in trouble. Same goes for any substance, even alcohol. You go out and party the night before, stay out till 2 Am come home and got to work at 7, someone smells it on your breath, you'll be in sent to treatment before you can say I'm not an alcoholic.
  4. by   Josh L.Ac.
    After reading some of the stories on this thread, I was reminded of a very poignant episode from the first season of "Boomtown", which was a very interesting police drama where the story was told from several perspectives.


    In the episode "Blackout" [I think it was that one], one of the main characters is an alcoholic that is highly functioning...I think he was a city attorney. He is attending a dinner in the honor of his boss, the district attorney, and stands up and gives a little story about how is boss is no-nonsense and fair. People are laughing at his punch lines and he is the center of attention.

    Later in the episode, when the story is told from the viewpoint of a reporter who happens to be at the benefit dinner, the events are quite different. The reporter notices that the attorney is slurring his words and keeps clanking his wine glass against the dishes on his table...as he tells a rambling story about the district attorney. People aren't laughing at the story - they are doing that nervous laughter that people do when something incredibly inappropriate happens in public.



    My point is that many people think they are acting and behaving completely normal when they are under the influence, but they really aren't. And just because nobody gets in your face and calls you on your impairment does not mean you are unimpaired.

    What is incredibly sad is that sometimes the medications that are vital in allowing a person to be pain-free enough to work also have the unintended side effect of taking the person off their game. This might not be too much of an issue depending on the type of work...but it might.


    Sigh.
  5. by   DutchgirlRN
    Quote from teeituptom
    Do you want someone under the use of narcotics driving a car. Do you want a nurse using narcotics to control pain to take care of your family members. I have to answer....No
    I have to answer yes. There are many professionals in all fields who have valid prescriptions for narcotics. When I applied for my job I had to declare what prescription meds I am on. I've done this with 3 or 4 jobs over the past 10 years and never a problem. I take Ativan BID and have for 8 years at least. It does not impair me in any way. I think the issue here is if the professional is using more than they are legally prescribed leading to impaired judgement.
  6. by   deehaverrn
    Just checked into this link again, not doing much better yet, although i am seeing a pain specialist now, and he cut my hours down to 4 which in itself helps. i am still not sleeping well, only about 4 hours a night. some have suggested that it is okay to take meds and work, but i KNOW that i don't feel alert when i take my meds, even when i take less than i need to take my pain away. I have always been sensitive to meds, even cold tablets and benadryls throw me. I'm not sure how the whole compounding thing would work. I can't take NSaids at all because they throw my BP through the roof. I think <not to sound snobbish but its true..Before I got hurt I was an exemplary nurse, and now i'm just not..i do my best which is still much better than some of my coworkers, but its not up to my standards. One thing, now I really try to make sure to take my break, even if i still have things to do, but because i know that i really need to rest for 10 minutes. The thing that has come home to me in all this , is that no body (except family) really does care about you. coworkers mostly don't want to have to do anything extra to help you, bosses just want to fill their shifts, employers just want to cover the bottom line, doctors just want the $, insurance co. just wants whatever is cheaper and they can get away with, the lawyers just want their $ too, politicians just want whoever is putting?keeping them in office to be happy, so pretty much you're outta luck
  7. by   TX_ICU_RN
    Until you have chronic pain, you have no idea what it does to you physically, emotionally and mentally. I would much rather have a RN taking care who is appropriately taking their pain meds than one trying to grin and bear it. MANY RNs are taking narcs, benzos, amphetamines, phenobarb, etc. and functioning quite normally. When you have chronic pain and are taking narcs appropriately, you are not impaired. What makes you impaired is when you DO NOT take the narcs and try to suffer through the pain.
  8. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Quote from deehaverrn
    Just checked into this link again, not doing much better yet, although i am seeing a pain specialist now, and he cut my hours down to 4 which in itself helps. i am still not sleeping well, only about 4 hours a night. some have suggested that it is okay to take meds and work, but i KNOW that i don't feel alert when i take my meds, even when i take less than i need to take my pain away. I have always been sensitive to meds, even cold tablets and benadryls throw me. I'm not sure how the whole compounding thing would work. I can't take NSaids at all because they throw my BP through the roof. I think <not to sound snobbish but its true..Before I got hurt I was an exemplary nurse, and now i'm just not..i do my best which is still much better than some of my coworkers, but its not up to my standards. One thing, now I really try to make sure to take my break, even if i still have things to do, but because i know that i really need to rest for 10 minutes. The thing that has come home to me in all this , is that no body (except family) really does care about you. coworkers mostly don't want to have to do anything extra to help you, bosses just want to fill their shifts, employers just want to cover the bottom line, doctors just want the $, insurance co. just wants whatever is cheaper and they can get away with, the lawyers just want their $ too, politicians just want whoever is putting?keeping them in office to be happy, so pretty much you're outta luck

    Are you a candidate for any procedures or an implantable like a spinal cord stimulator?

    Sorry if you answered this before but my Safari browser is running very slowly and it is taking too long to load the rest of the pages in this thread.
  9. by   TX_ICU_RN
    I know that this question was asked of someone else, but I think it is a GREAT question. I have a spinal cord stimulator and LOVE it. It has not been enough to get me to where I want to be, so I am about to enter a clincal trial for intrathecal gabapentin. It is astounding to see what is out there today!
  10. by   Josh L.Ac.
    If you don't mind giving out some information...how long have you had it, what condition do you have, and what treatments did you fail before you got down the list to the stimulator?



    Don't feel pressured to answer.
  11. by   TX_ICU_RN
    I don't mind at all. I had a wakeboarding accident (one binding did not release) and sustained a talar dome fx. After 2 surgeries to repair the talus, I was diagnosed with RSD in Spring 2005. We thought we had caught it early enough to put it into remission...but it did not happen. I had several LSBs, months of PT, biofeedback training and meds in the first few months after diagnosis. Unfortunately, the RSD continued to flair and eventually spread from just my right ankle to my entire right leg.

    Before the stim, I had tried multiple different meds. We started with Lyrica and Neurontin...WAY too many side effects. High-dose Cymbalta worked somewhat and I am still on that. I ran through the course of Fentanyl patches (worked great...did not stay on well), Avinza (did not work well), and finally Methadone (worked fantastic). The opioids made me extremely fatigued and my QOL was significantly decreased.

    So, we finally did a stim trial. It is amazing and I am so glad I had it put in. Unfortunately, it does not take care of all the pain and sensitivity, so I am entering a clinical trial next week. I have been accepted...now I will have a pump implanted to receive intrathecal gabapentin. They have had fantastic results and I am excited to see what will happen.
  12. by   lizzybrog80
    Quote from grannynurse FNP student
    With all due respect, I have a quick question for all: How would you know that the physician was taking pain medication, on a long term basis to control chronic pain, unless he shared it with you? Please share with me how you would reach such a determination.

    Grannynurse
    Hi all, brand new to the boards, but have to chime in on this b/c it hits homem for me, being a chronic pain patient on narcotics for 3 years.

    In addition to Grannynurse's comment, I want to reiterate what someone said earlier. People who have severe chronic pain are often in much WORSE state of mind (in relation to caring for a patient) when in pain than when in not pain (at the hand of a narcotic). I can speak for one that when my pain is at an 8/10 because I'm NOT taking meds, I am a WRECK. I cannot think straight for anything. So I would MUCH rather have a doc who is a chronic pain patient be on his meds than off. Now, would you rather a doc who wasn't a chronic pain patient at all? Sure, in a perfect world. Just wanted to reiterate that point, because it's spot on.
  13. by   lizzybrog80
    Quote from TX_ICU_RN
    Until you have chronic pain, you have no idea what it does to you physically, emotionally and mentally. I would much rather have a RN taking care who is appropriately taking their pain meds than one trying to grin and bear it. MANY RNs are taking narcs, benzos, amphetamines, phenobarb, etc. and functioning quite normally. When you have chronic pain and are taking narcs appropriately, you are not impaired. What makes you impaired is when you DO NOT take the narcs and try to suffer through the pain.
    AMEN. And unfortunately, this is something that non-chronic pain sufferers will never agree or admit to, because they just DON'T GET IT (not meant in a mean way - there are some things that you may not have experienced yet, but can imagine what it might be like almost exactly; chronic pain is NOT one of those...unless/until you have experience it, you have NO IDEA what it's like to be in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and NEVER BE ABLE TO GET AWAY FROM IT (i.e., certain positions do not make it less - it is the same ALL THE TIME). Anyway, the thought above is exactly right.

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