Drug abuse in hospitals

Nurses Safety


I'm a little concerned. I've recently qualified and started working in an NHS hospital in London (not naming any names). Already I'm becoming aware that there's quite a few staff members using drugs - either helping themselves to stuff eg tramadol, and also doctors etc who do coke/heroin and other stuff. Is this normal or is this hospital in the minority? I know this job can be stressful but I didn't realise...! If I know of someone who's doing drugs, what should I do?


146 Posts

Specializes in Paed Ortho, PICU, CTICU, Paeds Retrieval.

Unlike the USA, healthcare professionals in the UK are not drug tested, so this situation needs to be reported at once.

If you are concerned about 'whistle-blowing' then send an anonymous letter to the Chief Exec - pretend that you are a patient concerned for your safety and that you are going to the press (give the Chief Exec the names of the staff). Watch how quickly something gets done.

I know that this is a difficult situation to enter into, but you have to ask yourself "If they were caring for my loved ones would I be happy?"

Hope everything works out.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

if you are 100% certain then it needs to be reported. it's very scary to think that we're holding a drug impaired health professional responsible for a pt's life and/or recovery.


1,987 Posts

Wow, by all means report this! This is patient safety we are talking about here. Think of it this way: would you want your mother, father, children being taken care of by a staff member(s) who have been using drugs? In the states, I believe that you have a duty to report if you suspect that someone is using drugs. That's scary. You would be doing people a lot of good and possibly save a life if you reported this. I know it's difficult, but what if someone died? In the states, you could be held liable if you knew that someone was using drugs and didn't report it.

Do the right thing and report this. I know it's a difficult situation, and I wish you the very best of luck.


2 Posts

drug abuse in this profession is going on alot more then we think. I am from upstate N.Y and thank god for programs such as the state wide peer assistance program. this is a support group for people who have a drug and/or alcohol problem. This group also works closley with the PAP (professional Assistance program) The problem is the stigmatism thats put on people with a substance abuse problem. Maybe if we supported each other instead of back bitting more people would feel comfortable to seek tx

Wow. Report as others have said. We had several docs who lost privileges at our hospitals due to prescription drugs/coke. Went through rehab and reinstated. Started using again, again went through rehab. Now practising again. Ruined many marriages, but hopefully no patients hurt. Scary, but true.


4,177 Posts

people who use drugs whether they are truck drivers or nurses are putting other people at risk for their lives.....there are so many lives being affected by the drug situation the abuser, those who love them and ache to see them throw their lives away, and those innocent people who may never live to see tomorrow because someone was spaced out maybe reporting them will break the cycle God bless

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I think you have a professional obligation to the patients to report this. It's unsafe. If for some reason something comes down and they interview you and you admit you suspected it but didn't say anything, you could be liable. I'm in the US though, and don't know your laws.

Doesn't sound like a good situation to be in at all. Good luck.

We've had isolated incidences of drug abuse here. Fortunately it doesn't seem to be a very big problem.


57 Posts

Specializes in geriatric.

Where i work i see several nurses who may be diverting but i have no proof.lets just say i know what to look for. i believe that if i told the DON she would not do anything unless she had proof. It is a small company and one of the nurses who i susspect has been there for years. We had a resident on roxonol and whenever she recieved a dose she would be out cold andthen very sleepy for 24 hrs. well the one day she suposedy got 2 doses and didnt so much as close her eyes for 2 shifts. she also said that on another night when this resident did sleep thru the shift that she gave it to her because she was anxious and could not sleep. i was caring for the resident hat night and she did not wake up for more then 10 minutes thru shift.another time this nurse was told she had to work another floor because of a call in well she insisted on giving meds on both floors and said she was doing a favor so soupervisor would not have to give out meds, well resident got a dose of roxanol without even staing any discofort during shift. do you think i am reading to much into this?

lil pixi

105 Posts

None of it's right, IMO, but the doctors on coke & heroin boggled me most.....

To think medical professionals know better than anyone what that stuff does to your body & can still put it in their own. :confused: =/

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