This is "how" Nurses divert drugs for their own use. - page 2

This is the "how" Nurses divert drugs for their own use. The extent to which this goes on depends on availability. In the hospital setting, Nurses who are in advanced stages of addiction pick ... Read More

  1. by   anitame
    Thank you Bonnie for sharing your story It takes a lot of courage to discuss something as serious with this. I think it's WONDERFUL that you're educating and helping people.
    And reminding people that it's a disease and there is treatment.
  2. by   EmeraldNYL
    Originally posted by ERNurse752
    ...which brings up another interesting topic...

    Should all hospitals institute mandatory random drug testing for all employees?

    No way!! This is a blatant invasion of privacy. Employees should only be tested if there is legitimate reason to suspect that they are using.
  3. by   Katana
    I remember a time, many years ago, one of our nurses's fathers had died. She didn't take the usual 3 days leave but returned to work the next day. We were very worried about her not taking time for herself and her grief. We watched her closely. She went into the bathroom and was in there longer than we thought was safe.

    We knocked. No answer. Security called and the door unlocked and she was found on the floor, unconscious and Morphine carbuject and Vistaril vial found on the floor and syringe wrapper in the trash.

    We took her to ER where she was given narcan and regained consciousness and finally got the help she needed.

    We found out that she had had a drug problem before and the stress of losing her father made her take the chance of using at work which she hadn't before.

    I don't know what happened as she never returned to work at our facility. I do hope she got the help she needed for the pain in her life.

    That case was sad but the worst for me was an ICU nurse who stole the drugs for her boyfriend. Her excuse, "He said no other man wants me and if I want to stay with him, I have to take care of him and his needs." Definitely a form of abuse but she still lost her license because she was providing the drug for another person.

    Recently, our hospital was bought and everyone had to have a drug test. Several people were let go. Two were on my unit. One was marajuana and the other was percription pain medication. The latter had had two major surgeries very close together and it was the only way she could work and handle the pain she still had. Unfortunately, the new bosses considered them to be working impaired as they had no way of knowing if they had taken the medication while at work or not.

    We weren't the only unit hit by the drug testing results causing staff to be let go.

    This can bring up the debate of "What I do on my off time should not affect my job." But who's to say exactly when the person last used their drug of choice whether it be perscription, street or alcohol. I can see both sides of the situation with that... freedom comes in but so does patient safety.

    All who have successfully made it through rehab and are back to working in the job they love... you have my admiration for your strength and congratulations.

  4. by   WriteStuff
    All of the responses are insightful, heartfelt, and appreciated. Thanks to each of you for your own open-ness in sharing your experiences as well.

    To "mamabear"......CONGRATULATIONS to you......LOVED the "avitars".....and am glad you too are unashamedly able to be open and honest about your own sobriety. There is always hope. There is always help. We share openly in this way because this is a very real, very fatal dis-ease if left untreated. It is a dis-ease that will first take everything in your life, then your very life, just like terminal cancer or any other untreated terminal illness.

    And, "anitame".......thank-you for the kind words. Kind words are good "medicine", and I am grateful to be on the "good" end of life today!!

    FYI in general.......I have received many private e-mails from people who I will keep anonymous. There are many many "hurting" Nurses still among the ranks.

    Bonnie Creighton,RN in Minnesota
  5. by   maureeno
    when our hospital unit was training to use the Pyxis machine the drawers were filled with candy for practice. I was horrified for two reasons. One for the behavior of nurses taking anything out of a drawer and putting it in their own mouth and also for the association of meds as innocent and sweet as candy.
  6. by   Agnus
    Though I am not a drug user, (For the grace of God) or perhaps because of it, I sometimes worry when I give Narcs to a patient. Sometimes I give more than other nurses. I am very conscious of patient pain the need and right of the patient to have it relieved. The fact it is not my job to withhold relief from an (albite adicted)suffering patient. Also I am aware that those adicted actually require more of a narc for pain relief than the rest of us and they are entitled to relief.
    So, I sometimes wonder if I will be suspected of dirverting drugs. It is such a fine line to tread.
  7. by   caliotter3
    What an excellent thread and so courageous and thoughtful of you to post. What gets me is that places where I have worked have had situations where the record keeping (between shift count, etc.) was so sloppy that anybody could have been diverting and easily. At some point in time an indiv begins to wonder. And then what happens to you, the indiv, when you put your foot down and insist on a correct count, and corrrect actions?
    Your co-workers screw you over, b/c this is just another example of some of their job "sloppiness" and you are a b***h if you say a word. Thanks again for talking about something most of us are too scared to talk about under any circumstance. And congratulations on your success and sobriety. (BTW: It occurred to me that your thread and offer to communicate w/others is honoring one of the steps. Isn't there one about bringing the message to others? May God bless you.
  8. by   mamabear
    When one nurse witnesses the destruction of a drug, he/she watches and then documents that the drug was [a] squirted down the sink or [b] put in the little bin in the top drawer of the Pyxis (the one with the Chapman lock). I'm sure there are ways to get around it, but I'm more concerned with staying clean and sober so I can do my job to the best of my ability
  9. by   Tweety
    That's an awesome story. Thanks for sharing your sobriety with us.
  10. by   micro
    Originally posted by Rustyhammer
    Yeah, yeah, yeah.
    We have all seen the abusing nurse go down in flames at least once. It's not a pretty picture is it?
    We know the nurse who gives all the prn's on her shift and nobody ELSE seems to have that patient in pain.
    We can see when the same nurses count is always a bit off "I dropped one and no one was around to see me waste it".
    It's sad.

    nurses are human also.....
    maybe when we give up on the notion of being supernurses.....
    then we will get serious.....and just do our jobs to the best of
    our abilities...........

    now to treat each other.....and to have management, administrators and again, each other with the same respect.........
    that we show to our patients............

    gotta run and go have fun dispensing medication and patient care at work.........

    am not being tongue-in-cheek about a very serious subject,
  11. by   caliotter3
    I thought of something else concerning this general subject. What is really "sicko" and indicative of just how low some in our profession can stoop, is when one or more nurses "set up" a co-worker they don't like for a prob w/the controlled meds. They know that by doing this, it is a sure-fire way to get the outcast fired and probably out of the job pool for good. Yes, sad but true, it does happen.
    Im a FIRM BELIEVER for random drug testing of ALL employees...
    I want anyone that I work with the be as clean as possible for patient care. If there are drugs found in the system and if they have a script that will clear them then thats another story. But for those that dont , they will have the right to confess and enter a program or well recieve the pink slip invitation to the curb. I have worked with nurses that tipped the scales of pain management for their patients for their own gain. Its cruel, and unacceptable and there is a special place in he(( for them. Yes Im well aware everyone has a circumstance ,and I will be the first person to stand and applaude anyone that discovers their problem and gets help, it takes more courage Im sure than I have to conquor that, and even more Im sure to deal with it daily.
    Bonnie: Your an inspiration to others that deal with this disease, allowing them to see the other side of the tunnel and the light should be some comfort knowing that you went through has helped another and the suffering you aquired has made you a person to look up to in this matter. I believe that everything serves a purpose, and a lesson is learned from every action. Maybe because of what you have done and gone through will give inspiration to another to seek the advice and help, and to become like you a survivor.
    Just my thoughts
  13. by   Agnus
    We do a physical count and when the cabinet is open you have unrestricted access to everything in it including what you are signing out.
    We also have a number of liquid narcs in bulk. The pharm fills these and there are marking on the bottle that tell how much. The marks are spaced quite far and accuracy is not that good. This is an onging problem. You are doing more of an estimate of what is in the bottle as this is the best we can do.
    The marks are hard to see let alone read. A few days ago I read X amount of m.s. elixer. and it agreed with the narc record. Then I opened it to count an hour later and there was 10 cc more. Yet the original amount agreed with what was on the narc record. I could not explain this. how difficult would it with p. o.liquids like this for someone to add a little water or something wwhen they took out some of the drug for thier own use.
    Yet this was never checked by pharmacy an I immediately brought this to her attention. She saw no reason for this error. She could not question my reading the bottle wrong the first time since what I read agreed with what was suposed to be there.
    Errors like this are shrugged off. The feeling is well there is no drug missing so it is not a real concern. If there was less than what was suposed to be there well that would be a problem.

    There have on different occasions been problems with count and they have been reported and we are told "just write an incident report and let everyone go home."

    It is assumed we would never divert and never water down drugs. No one is suspected of doing any drugs. We ignore the fact that some nurses litterally fall asleep while GIVING report. "she works two jobs poor thing," etc. This may be true but no one ever challenges shortages or excesses. Those who do are belittled. I have pointe out repeatedly nurses who are unsafe but I am ignored.
    Pharmacy over stocks our cabinet because she does not want to be called in to restock. There is at least one nurse who has asked her not to do this.
    What can I do to protect myself, the patients, possibly get rid of a nurse who is unsafe or maybe even using or diverting, get rid of such easy free access. I asm just a staff nurse who is considered a trouble maker by management.