Nurse addict?

  1. My wife is an RN and recently I've become more concerned about certain things I've found around our house. I'm not in the medical profession but thought maybe someone in this forum could offer me some advice.

    A little background - my wife graduated from nursing school in 2000 and for the last year has worked the night shift in the critical care unit of a busy, major metropolitian hospital. She isn't happy at work for a variety of reasons and has had difficulty adjusting to the night shift (she has trouble sleeping during the day).

    A few months ago I found two little IV viles of lorazepam in the butter compartment of our fridge. When I ask my wife about it she said that during patient emergencies she sometimes inadvertently put the partically used viles in her pocket and accidently took them home (she said they were marked as "waste" on the paitent's chart). I asked her why she just didn't throw them away later. She said it just seemed like a waste to do that. I didn't question her any further on it and didn't find anything else in the fridge after that.

    Since then I've found two syringe caps on the floor in our bedroom. Recently I found two more viles of lorazepam (one in a "carpuject" form) and one vile of midazolam in her sock draw (yeah, I snooped). I'm reluctant to confront her on this because she's lied to me in the past about other non-work related issues.

    Might I be just making a big deal about some innocent mistakes she's made or do you think there is more going on here? The only other hospital drug I've found around the house was a vile of oral dose morphine by the telephone. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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    About banker321

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 4


  3. by   tiger
    no you are not on the wrong track. you don't accidentally take stuff like that home and hide it around the house. she needs help!!!!!!!!!
  4. by   misti_z
    WOW, you definitely need to talk to her.

    Bringing a wasted med home is possible, but I don't understand why she would hang on to the narcotics--in the fridge, dresser?

    If she is abusing she needs help before she hurts herself, her patients, loses her job, loses her license, goes to jail, ruins your marriage, do you have kids?, need I go on....

    I wish you and your wife the best of luck. She is not alone if she is using, employers offer assistance to impaired nurses.
    I hope this is a awful coincidence, but it sounds bad.
    Last edit by misti_z on Aug 30, '01
  5. by   tiger
    how is bringing home a waste so possible when you are supposed to have two people sign that it was wasted. i mean i know it is possible but i think only purposefully.
  6. by   misti_z
    I haven't accidentely brought home a waste myself, I'd be the one to pull it out of my pocket while walking to the car talking to my manager!!

    But I've worked with a few nurses who have actually brought it back the next day and say that they kept it on them because they were sure the patient would need it again.....?

    Where I work the 'narcs' are in a computerized/locked cabinet "PYXIS" (sp?) your signature is a short username and password, much like logging onto the BB! Everyone is busy, types in their username and password then turns around, never witnessing the actual waste. A flaw, yes I know.
  7. by   tiger
    i don't understand how you can bring it home if it is not on purpose. why would you stick it in your pocket instead of trash, etc., unless you want it??????? don't all places require two signatures for wasstes?????????/
  8. by   craff1
    I've been in AA for 7 years. Call Naranon or Alanon, groups for families/supporters of addicts. You can confront her, but you cannot make her change. She will have to hit her bottom, and will most likely drag your and your family with her. She has an illness - like cancer. The treatment is recovery. Get her a Narcotics Anonymous schedule and let her decide whether or not to go. Naranon, will help you stay sane (if that's possible) while staying in this relationship. Addiction is a system problem, it involves the whole family. If you care about the relationship, you will invest in your own recovery. You could do the tough love thing and report this to her employer. They probably have an employee assistance program, and may give her a chance to clean up her act before they fire her. Remember, she is risking the lives of your children, and the patients under her care. Her judgement is impaired while she's using. Don't wait. Take action.
    Good luck.
  9. by   P_RN
    Your wife has a problem.

    One: if it IS inadvertant or ISN'T it is still DRUG DIVERSION. She knows that it is wrong.

    Two: You can't get out of orientation without knowing you have to have a witness actually SEE you squirt the stuff out. Somebody else is enabling her by signing without actually witnessing.

    Carrying home a syringe or alcohol swab is innocent enough. You take them back the next day. USING them at home is something else.

    You need to talk with your wife.....and possibly get a lawyer.

    Being labelled as a drug thief will stay with her forever.

    I didn't see where you are from but go to your state board of nursing web site and there will probably be a LONG list of nurses who have lost their licenses.....for the world to see.

    Please talk to her and get her help. And please don't leave her alone until you do.
  10. by   misti_z
    Ok, here's what I've observed..

    Nurse gets out med, ex: needs 2 mg morphine which is supplied in 4mg/2mL. Computer asks 'Do you plan to administer entire dose of Morphine 4mg/2mL' Nurse says 'No' then the computer ask for another username/password which would be the second 'signature' The second nurse steps in enters her username/password and hits 'continue' draw opens automatically, after that you enter the beginning count into the computer, get out the 4mg/2mL of morphine, close the draw and draw up what you need and if you do it like it is supposed to be done you waste the 1mL you do not need. At this point the second signature is supposed to be watching you squirt the rest down the sink, but in some cases the nusre is long gone. I never keep a waste quoting myself from before:
    I'd be the one to pull it out of my pocket while walking to the car talking to my manager!!
    If I'm wasting I ask that the other nurse watch like the law says.
    But I have seen nurses put the other 1 mL (to stay with the above example) in their pocket to use it in 3 hours because the patient is in horrible pain requesting the med as soon as it is available. When I was seeing this I did open my mouth about why the witness was not there, now I try not to be near someone who is doing it improperly, for my own sake. When I am the second signature on a waste I watch the waste happen I do not walk away after entering my username and password/'signature'

    But just the other day I was in the medicine room and a nurse was talking about how she had just thrown away a med she had accidentely taken home. She thought that the patient would need the med again before the end of shift so she hung on to it trying to safe herself time (I guess) but the patient did not request the med after that and she forgot she had it until at home emptying her pockets...
    It's not right that this happens and I do not let it happen to me. Maybe it's been explained clearly
    Last edit by misti_z on Aug 30, '01
  11. by   tiger
    like i said i know it's possible but more than likely if you end up at home with a controlled drug it is intentional. i have been doing this for 16 yrs and have never taken any drug home. and we are all very trusting of each other to waste what we sign for even if we don't actually witness it. i don't think i would forget that i had something illegal in my pocket when i got ready to clock out.
  12. by   debbyed
    Ok...I agree that she probably has a problem based solely on the fact that she hid these drugs.

    Everything everybody said about wastes is completely true, however---and this is a big however, written standards are not the same as reality.

    In most the ER's I have worked at, critical and code situations called for a little different stratigy, We frequently use multidose vials especially Ativan (10 mg. vial) Since you unofficially have a 1 mg prn for seizure activity until seizure activity stops that 10 mg. vial goes with you to CAT Scan, etc.

    When intubating a conscious patient we always remove 2- 5mg. vials of versed from the Pixis because it takes so D@*n long to get the med out in the first place. Some times it only takes 2 mgs some times it takes the whole 10.

    With acute MI patients you give morphine 2mgs every couple minutes until pain is under control. The tubex holds 10mgs. Again sometimes 2 mgs is enough, sometimes you need all 10.

    Now in a perfect world when the critical incident is over you should empty your pockets and waste what is left. More often than not you are already involved in something else and you forget.

    I have taken all of the above home a few times, but they went out on the dresser with the rest of the stuff in my pockets, to be disposed up properly the next shift I work. (No I don't have small children in my home, just hubby and me)
  13. by   misti_z
    Originally posted by tiger
    and please misty clarify that that quote is not from me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sorry not sure what you are talking about, is it this?.....
    "I'd be the one to pull it out of my pocket while walking to the car talking to my manager!! "
    What I meant here was that that is why I do not put waste in my pocket, I would forget and when I remembered and went to get it out of my pocket someone would see it and get the wrong impression of why I had it.
    Hope that clears myself up
  14. by   banker321
    Thank you everyone for the advice you have given me, I guess I have a lot to think about. To answer misti_z question, no, we don't have any children. We are both in our late 30s and have been married for less than 2 years.

    In regard to the drugs I mentioned -- lorazepam (mostly) and midazolam (once), I have another question. I've found out via the internet that both are sedatives, but are they the type of drugs a stressed out RN would want to steal? I'm very confused.

    Several posters mentioned that two RN's are needed to declare a drug "waste". Is this true in all 50 states?

    Thanks again for your help.