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Nurses and narcotics

My apologies for this being such a novel!  There's a lot on my mind and I'm not sure who or what to do at this point, so I'm going to let it out here and maybe one of you wonderful people can offer some advice.

I've only been a nurse for about a year and a half, but managed to land a job working as an RN in an office-setting managing the medical care side of 30+ individuals.  There is one other nurse who was hired earlier this year.  When management picked her, I was ecstatic because she brought SO much nursing and leadership experience to the table that I frankly lack, and she has taught me SO much ever since.  We balance each other out really well, and it was wonderful.  Until I started noticing some things.  Early on, I noticed she was very accusatory of others and argumentative.  For instance -- she accused me of going through her desk (we share an office room), and she wasn't really rude about it, but she stated that she had noticed some things on her desk moved around on several occasions, so of course she blamed me.  Well, I understand why she would accuse me because we do share an office; however, I am not the only one with access to our office, and I really have no desire to go through anyone's things, so I point blank told her I never go through her stuff.  What got me she had rummaged through another person's desk to "borrow" an ethernet cord.  I didn't realize where she had obtained this cord until she told me.  Now, I'm not the one to start drama by ANY means.  Typically, I stay to myself and stay away from all the drama, even though that makes me out to be a sort of oddball to everyone in the office.  I'm not there to start crap-I'm there to take care of my people. But the fact that she went through someone's belongings to "borrow" (steal) a cord just really threw me.

Then another instance.  We receive medications from our pharmacy routinely, and one of her individuals had a pack of antibiotics that were sent in and then discontinued.  Rather than waste those antibiotics, she kept them in her narcotic drawer with the excuse of "you never know when someone might need those" and "they're just antibiotics."  Granted, yes, they are "just" antibiotics, but they were not HERS to keep.  As a nurse, I really do not care what medication it is, if the medication has been prescribed for someone else, they are simply not mine to take.  Maybe I'm too black and white with that, but that's how I see things.  Anyway, so a few weeks later, about the time she accused me of going through her things, she said the antibiotics had come up missing from her drawer.  I simply shrugged my shoulders because I honestly had no idea where they were.  Then, not too long after that, we received medications from the pharmacy as we usually do.  Some of them were narcotics for her clients, and this was a day she was not in the office, so I simply locked them in her narcotic drawer and left a message for her stating what I left and where.  What was odd, though, is I noticed in the back of this drawer was a pack of antibiotics stashed away.  It was the same pack she said had gone missing. I didn't say anything, didn't do anything, because I didn't want her thinking I was "going through" her things -- I was just placing narcotics in her drawer.  So I just shut the drawer and locked it and let it go.

Some other things have happened, but I'm going to focus on the most recent, more concerning incidents.  We have a med tech/med runner in our office whom this other nurse has become relatively close with.  She knows more about the med tech than I do, that's for sure.  Well, several weeks back this nurse told me in private that the med tech/med runner had offered her extra Adderall that her son had left over when his meds had changed.  Her reason is she believes she has ADD but her doctor will not prescribe the meds for it just yet, so she took a couple Adderall, and halved them.  I was stunned but I kept silent trying to figure out what to say.  I don't have a single bit of proof and it'd be her word against mine, so I'm really not even sure who to go to. I wasn't even sure if this was something she was simply telling me to see if I'd go to someone about, if that makes sense.  I have been keeping my eyes and ears far more open around her, and this passed weekend I thought of something.  We have coworkers who are coordinators over our individuals.  They assist us in quite a bit.  Well, one coordinator is under the other nurse, and their individual had a prescription for Adderall which was discontinued and changed to Ritalin about a month ago.  Last week, the med tech and I were discussing this coworker of ours and how this coworker has yet to bring in the discontinued Adderall to our office to be wasted.  The other nurse was out of the office that day, so the med tech asked the nurse if the Adderall had been brought back.  According to the med tech, the nurse said yes and that it had been wasted.  Thing is, I never signed off with her that those were wasted.  We do not have an electronic system that requires two nurses ID's to waste medications, we use paper.  And I never signed off on those.  So yesterday, I asked this nurse nonchalantly if that discontinued Adderall had been brought back, just to see her response.  Her first response was no, but then she stopped, closed her eyes, shook her head and said she wasted them but they were never brought in to the office.  Once again, I had NO idea what to even say.  I'm just overwhelmed with this right now, and maybe I'm thinking too much into it??? Yeah, probably not... but then I got to thinking and I wondered if she said the med tech gave her Adderall when really she actually took what she "wasted," and I'm not close enough with the med tech to ask her anything about this.

This is the same nurse who claims she's been through the ringer with the DEA over previous coworkers stealing meds and she values her license too much to jeopardize it.  Why would she admit to taking nonprescribed Adderall? While I am very black and white on prescription meds, keeping the discontinued antibiotics was one thing, but taking Adderall??? And why would she waste Adderall that never touched her hands? If that Adderall is missing, I sure has hell wouldn't sign my name to a waste sheet when it never reached my hands.  I would try to get to the bottom of where it is and WHY it hasn't been brought back TO be wasted.

Guys, what do I do if all I have are statements with no other hard proof of anything going on?  Remember I haven't been a nurse for very long, and this is the very first time I've ever experienced something like this, and to put it lightly, I'm VERY concerned!

She sounds very sketchy. She's likely a diverter from what you describe. 

You should keep a log of all this. Dates, times, quotes, etc. What you describe is troubling. 

9 minutes ago, Emergent said:

She sounds very sketchy. She's likely a diverter from what you describe. 

You should keep a log of all this. Dates, times, quotes, etc. What you describe is troubling. 

Oh I am, believe me.  Especially after yesterday when I do believe I caught her off guard asking about the Adderall. 

Thank you for the advice!

simba and mufasa has 16 years experience.

Please be on the look out, it smells fishy. Have your eyes and ears open. Take pictures of deliveries and discontinued meds if possible and keep on your phone. Your instincts are right, if it quacks like a duck, its a duck. You work with someone who has issues and is diverting meds. You do not have to be a nurse for long to figure this out. Collect evidence and let her dig her own grave but protect your license, keep your keys, dot your I and cross your t. You are in danger!

Dr Madenya

Thank you guys for your advice.  I feel a little better knowing maybe I'm not crazy thinking this way.

Another thing I forgot is last Thursday, when everyone in the office left to go home, the other nurse and I stayed after a little while longer to get some meds checked in.  She said, "Now that everyone is gone, I want to tell you something..." and she told me that she noticed a pack of narcotics for one of her individual's went missing from her drawer.  I didn't ask what med it was or when it supposedly went missing -- for some reason, I end up just stunned with the news about these meds because it's such a huge mess!  But what I don't understand is why she didn't make a bigger deal about a WHOLE PACK of missing narcs for her individual?? At some point that individual is going to need those meds so it will be on her to answer the question as to where they are, and she claims she went through a whole DEA investigation years ago with a former coworker who was stealing meds and she NEVER wants to go through that again, but I just do not understand her response to this.  And honestly, now I question whether anything is ever missing vs her just making things up to divert attention away from her? If that makes sense??  It's really difficult to gather any hard evidence except for what she says, and we are still working remotely from home a couple days through the week so I'm not always in the office when she is and vice versa.  From the day she mentioned taking Adderall that was offered to her, I began taking notes.  No nurse in their right mind, especially one who dealt with the DEA directly, would take narcs for which they have no prescription themselves.

Do you guys think maybe it would be too soon to bring up my concerns to my boss?  My concern is something is going to happen and I end up more involved than I want to be.

She is trouble with a capital T and you will not remain unscathed being that you work so closely with her (as far as both your role and your physical proximity, etc.)

She is a fabricator and whatever happens it will be her word against yours.

You need to make this log-keeping a very short project; it can't be an ongoing thing where you keep notes "in case anything ever happens." You need to take at most a few weeks or a month to concisely write down irregularities and you need to inform your supervisor. When I say concise, I mean:

1) Implies that I have gone through her things. Asks me if other people have gone through her things. Gossips of suspicions about other coworkers

2) X med not wasted. Concerning story about whether it was wasted or not; changed story

3) Keeps leftover/discontinued patient medications

4) Reports accepting adderall from a coworker's child's prescription because she has self-diagnosed with ADD and states personal physician won't prescribe

Etc. Including dates.

 

You are in danger by even having access to restricted areas that she has access to, and by having to do things like receive her patients' medications on her behalf and lock them in her drawer.

This is bad news. Unless a very urgent situation arises, play it cool until you are ready to present the problem to your supervisor (soon).

 

TriciaJ specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

I agree with above posters.  It is very concerning that she has  irregular medication-handling practices and is prone to accusing other people of going through her belongings.  She is setting someone else up to blame when she finally gets caught.

Please write down everything you remember and speak with your supervisor this week.  You'll be glad you did.

canoehead specializes in ER.

I would write down the situation as you have in your post. Express your concerns to your supervisor, though there's no proof you don't want to be caught up in the mess when things go missing from a drawer you both have the keys to. Ask for guidance, and keep noting situations that make you uncomfortable. I doubt she'll last long at that job.

dream'n specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych.

I would not want any access to her narcotic drawer, ever.  I would inform my supervisor and let her know my concerns.  I would then ask the boss to keep her narcotic keys when she isn't working or whoever is on that cart.  If medication needs signed for and placed in her narcotic box, I'd ask the boss to witness that the meds were placed into her cart and then have the boss or whoever is assigned to keep the keys.  Is there anyway that can be done?  I'm sort of unclear on how your job site functions.  But I can see her coming in after a day off and saying a whole pack of narcotics you signed for are missing from her cart and trying to pin things on you.  I would be very wary and careful.

On 7/7/2020 at 9:54 AM, mdiada said:

My apologies for this being such a novel!  There's a lot on my mind and I'm not sure who or what to do at this point, so I'm going to let it out here and maybe one of you wonderful people can offer some advice.

I've only been a nurse for about a year and a half, but managed to land a job working as an RN in an office-setting managing the medical care side of 30+ individuals.  There is one other nurse who was hired earlier this year.  When management picked her, I was ecstatic because she brought SO much nursing and leadership experience to the table that I frankly lack, and she has taught me SO much ever since.  We balance each other out really well, and it was wonderful.  Until I started noticing some things.  Early on, I noticed she was very accusatory of others and argumentative.  For instance -- she accused me of going through her desk (we share an office room), and she wasn't really rude about it, but she stated that she had noticed some things on her desk moved around on several occasions, so of course she blamed me.  Well, I understand why she would accuse me because we do share an office; however, I am not the only one with access to our office, and I really have no desire to go through anyone's things, so I point blank told her I never go through her stuff.  What got me she had rummaged through another person's desk to "borrow" an ethernet cord.  I didn't realize where she had obtained this cord until she told me.  Now, I'm not the one to start drama by ANY means.  Typically, I stay to myself and stay away from all the drama, even though that makes me out to be a sort of oddball to everyone in the office.  I'm not there to start crap-I'm there to take care of my people. But the fact that she went through someone's belongings to "borrow" (steal) a cord just really threw me.

Then another instance.  We receive medications from our pharmacy routinely, and one of her individuals had a pack of antibiotics that were sent in and then discontinued.  Rather than waste those antibiotics, she kept them in her narcotic drawer with the excuse of "you never know when someone might need those" and "they're just antibiotics."  Granted, yes, they are "just" antibiotics, but they were not HERS to keep.  As a nurse, I really do not care what medication it is, if the medication has been prescribed for someone else, they are simply not mine to take.  Maybe I'm too black and white with that, but that's how I see things.  Anyway, so a few weeks later, about the time she accused me of going through her things, she said the antibiotics had come up missing from her drawer.  I simply shrugged my shoulders because I honestly had no idea where they were.  Then, not too long after that, we received medications from the pharmacy as we usually do.  Some of them were narcotics for her clients, and this was a day she was not in the office, so I simply locked them in her narcotic drawer and left a message for her stating what I left and where.  What was odd, though, is I noticed in the back of this drawer was a pack of antibiotics stashed away.  It was the same pack she said had gone missing. I didn't say anything, didn't do anything, because I didn't want her thinking I was "going through" her things -- I was just placing narcotics in her drawer.  So I just shut the drawer and locked it and let it go.

Some other things have happened, but I'm going to focus on the most recent, more concerning incidents.  We have a med tech/med runner in our office whom this other nurse has become relatively close with.  She knows more about the med tech than I do, that's for sure.  Well, several weeks back this nurse told me in private that the med tech/med runner had offered her extra Adderall that her son had left over when his meds had changed.  Her reason is she believes she has ADD but her doctor will not prescribe the meds for it just yet, so she took a couple Adderall, and halved them.  I was stunned but I kept silent trying to figure out what to say.  I don't have a single bit of proof and it'd be her word against mine, so I'm really not even sure who to go to. I wasn't even sure if this was something she was simply telling me to see if I'd go to someone about, if that makes sense.  I have been keeping my eyes and ears far more open around her, and this passed weekend I thought of something.  We have coworkers who are coordinators over our individuals.  They assist us in quite a bit.  Well, one coordinator is under the other nurse, and their individual had a prescription for Adderall which was discontinued and changed to Ritalin about a month ago.  Last week, the med tech and I were discussing this coworker of ours and how this coworker has yet to bring in the discontinued Adderall to our office to be wasted.  The other nurse was out of the office that day, so the med tech asked the nurse if the Adderall had been brought back.  According to the med tech, the nurse said yes and that it had been wasted.  Thing is, I never signed off with her that those were wasted.  We do not have an electronic system that requires two nurses ID's to waste medications, we use paper.  And I never signed off on those.  So yesterday, I asked this nurse nonchalantly if that discontinued Adderall had been brought back, just to see her response.  Her first response was no, but then she stopped, closed her eyes, shook her head and said she wasted them but they were never brought in to the office.  Once again, I had NO idea what to even say.  I'm just overwhelmed with this right now, and maybe I'm thinking too much into it??? Yeah, probably not... but then I got to thinking and I wondered if she said the med tech gave her Adderall when really she actually took what she "wasted," and I'm not close enough with the med tech to ask her anything about this.

This is the same nurse who claims she's been through the ringer with the DEA over previous coworkers stealing meds and she values her license too much to jeopardize it.  Why would she admit to taking nonprescribed Adderall? While I am very black and white on prescription meds, keeping the discontinued antibiotics was one thing, but taking Adderall??? And why would she waste Adderall that never touched her hands? If that Adderall is missing, I sure has hell wouldn't sign my name to a waste sheet when it never reached my hands.  I would try to get to the bottom of where it is and WHY it hasn't been brought back TO be wasted.

Guys, what do I do if all I have are statements with no other hard proof of anything going on?  Remember I haven't been a nurse for very long, and this is the very first time I've ever experienced something like this, and to put it lightly, I'm VERY concerned!

I would look for different work. She can ruin your career. Times are hard. But while you have a job to go to. You can be searching for a new job. Just don't tell anyone your plans and keep your search separate from work. 

hopefulRN'17 specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

I'm so sorry to hear you going through this.  I agree with everyone else.. take good notes and present them sooner rather than later.  I am afraid she is in the beginnings of setting you up with meds missing and you being the scapegoat. 

I hope nothing bad happens.  Best of luck!!

sleepwalker specializes in Occupational Health.

sounds to me like she's setting the stage to accuse you re: the missing pack of narcotics

Document, document, and document! Interact minimally with this person...she's trouble and won't hesitate to begin finger-pointing as soon as she feels like she's being monitored/observed or her position is being threatened

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