Accused of Narcotic Diversion

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by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

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Hi Beth,
I took a job on a busy med/surg unit almost 8 months ago. I have been on paid admin leave for a month now for suspicion of narcotic diversion that is untrue. The 1st investigation meeting showed no proof, then the 2nd meeting changed to patient safety concerns. They had 2 statements from nurses making false claims that I didn't give pain medication because they asked the patient and they said they didn't receive it.

Also, that I medicated some patients without asking the nurse when they were busy but I was being helpful when and when I wasn't break nurse. Some of the statements were just mean speaking to my character. Keep in mind they did not present any of these at the 1st meeting and I was never spoken to or ever approached about any of these accusations. I have been kind, helpful, and compassionate with never having one patient complaint. I am so devastated.

I spoke to my manager 2 weeks into the investigation because I was offered an outpatient position that I had previously applied for. I didn't know if I could accept the job with this process going on but my manager said that she did not want me to miss out on an opportunity and all she had to do was give a transfer date in which she did. Everything for the transfer is complete and I start in a few days. I still have to wait another week for them to determine the outcome of the investigation. HR (regional) nor my union rep know if I can start my transfer job. As of the transfer date provided by my manager, I am already hired into another position. Do I just show up to my new job as expected? Do you have any advice for me?

Dear Devastated,

If I got this right, you are on administrative leave pending an investigation. You are also planning an internal transfer within the same organization.

Two things strike me- I have never heard of an organization allowing you to work during an investigation. You are either on paid leave or you're not. If you are on paid leave, you cannot clock in to duty.

The second thing is HR not knowing if you can start your new job. Trust me, someone in HR knows. Maybe not the person you were asking, but someone in the HR department absolutely knows how paid admin leaves are managed.

Granted, this is a little more complicated than your usual straightforward transfer. The people you are talking to, including your manager, probably have not dealt with this exact circumstance before.

So, what should you do? First of all, I highly doubt you should (or can) start a new job until this is cleared up. Secondly, I would start with my union rep. Ask them your question, and if they say 'I don't know", ask "Well, then who should I ask ?"

As far as the investigation, your union rep should be with you during any meetings with your manager and HR. Whenever possible, try and get whatever was said in writing. It's too bad they didn't get a urine test when they first accused you of diversion. It would have helped your case.

Best wishes, I hope this gets resolved in your favor.

Nurse Beth

subee, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired. Has 50 years experience. 3,905 Posts

I wish they would put the burden of drug testing on the employer at the time they are accusing a nurse of diversion.  THEY are making the accusation and is not the onus on them to prove the veracity of their accusation?  Nurses aren't getting the word that they should not leave the facility until they get that drug screen.  If they refuse, well then, the employer can use that in presenting the case.  What gives me pause with this OP's post is that she is giving narcotics to other nurses' patients.  That's just asking for trouble.

JKL33

6,204 Posts

On 6/20/2022 at 7:39 PM, subee said:

What gives me pause with this OP's post is that she is giving narcotics to other nurses' patients.  That's just asking for trouble.

Only because people suck and touching another nurse's patient just gives someone who should know better something to witch about.  Not because there is something inherently wrong with doing so.

According to lean manufacturing (aka ED nursing), any warm body with an RN license better be busy doing whatever needs to be done as directed by the icons on the tracker board. Who is actually assigned is just a matter of who's on the hook for the charting.

On 6/20/2022 at 7:39 PM, subee said:

I wish they would put the burden of drug testing on the employer at the time they are accusing a nurse of diversion.  THEY are making the accusation and is not the onus on them to prove the veracity of their accusation? 

Agree. It'd be super nice if they got successfully sued for some of this behavior, too. They are just beyond miserable. They spread misery everywhere.

Edited by JKL33