Nurses Who Are Drug Addicts - page 17

I work with a nurse who I suspect is using drugs, and I think she is stealing them from the facility. Of those of you that have encountered this problem, what were the signs and symptoms? Thanks.... Read More

  1. by   subee
    In my state, the DON is obligated by law to report any nurse suspected of impaired practice, regardless of the cause, in the case of a nurse who refuses to enroll in an alternative treatment program.(.when available).. EVERY nurse has the responsibility to step in when a colleague exhibits bizarre behavior. You don't have to diagnose the problem and it doesn't have to be caused by chemicals. Its someone else's responsibility to diagnose. If this nurse had a decent intervention, maybe she could have been saved, but experience tells me that she was so far along in the disease process that maybe no one could have helped. Chemical dependency usually ends in death - suicide, car crash or accidental overdose. Please everyone, don't delay to take a colleague to the ER to be evaluated immediately. Its a hard thing to do when you're young or inexperienced, but trust your gut and deny your denial.
  2. by   bossynurse101
    Quote from herbivorousrn
    a few years ago i worked at a snf with an lpn that was obviously under the influence of narcotics. she would sometimes sit in a catatonic state at the nurses station, staring at the wall for an hour. she fell asleep standing at her med cart on a couple of occasions. she fell asleep giving shift report, her narcotic drawer count was always off. when staff reported her to the don---numerous complaints, by several different staff members---she would be sent home and she would be out for a few days. but she always came back, and the situation never changed. the don would tell us that she had prescriptions for all the meds she was taking---and there were alot. (the nurse herself mentioned that she was on oxycontin,duragesic, and others.) i was under the impression that working as a nurse while under the influence of narcotics was illegal, regardless whether they were legally prescribed or not. this nurse was a danger to the 30 patients she was responsible for ,as well as to herself. she had a couple of car accidents leaving work because she "fell asleep" at the wheel at 3pm !!!! i and a few other employees considered going to the florida bon because the don was doing nothing, but we never did. i was so disgusted with the situation, i eventually left that snf. a month ago, i happened to look at the obituaries in the local paper---and guess whose name was there? yep---that very nurse. she was only 34 years old and left behind two young children. i can't help but feel a little responsible. if i had gone to the bon and reported her, i might have prevented it. i didn't want the hassle, and i chose to just walk away. and i regret it.
    hmmm . . i think i worked there (seriously). the two kids were adopted? yeah, and everyone used to laugh coz the liquid ms wd go from dk pink to light pink after she worked. but noone stepped up to the plate. noone wanted to get involved or possibly be wrong for that matter. i did go to the don and i did report it to the bon. problem is, their hands are tied as well without substantial proof (like an employers' report!) but hey, im not talking out my *&ss on this one. i was intervened on in 2001 and every nite of my life i thank god for that nurse who did. she saved my life and last month i celebrated seven years in recovery. there is no judgement here, but if she isnt diverting then no sweat. same with kids you think are being abused. do the consequences outweigh the benefits?
  3. by   subee
    The DON"s hands are NOT TIED. When suspicious behavior like this is noted at work, its not the intervener's job to make a diagnosis - only a note of the behaviors. The behaviors may or may not be linked to drugs - hence, screening for chemicals is one test. There may be psychiatric issues. Its not our responsibility to label them as an addict - its our responsibility to ensure that their unsafe behaviors are addressed. The DON is OBLIGATED BY LAW to report this nurse. Some states require that the affected nurse be reported for disciplinary actions but most states have programs to evaluate the nurse, hold her license while under treatment and follow through with monitoring after the nurse has returned to work. Everyone who worked with this nurse and did nothing shares a bit of the responsibility. One reason I love Allnurses is that people can access help 24/7.
  4. by   Magsulfate
    Quote from burn out
    if you think someone is stealing the drugs you need to report it for no other reason than to clear yourself becasue if you think it is going on i am sure there are others that are suspicous too and may think it is you.

    the time that i have found out that co workers were stealing drugs i was
    very surprised at first then i looked back at some of the triggers i should have picked up on. the first time involved a male nurse and we used to laugh because when he bathed a patient he never rolled his sleeves up ( and he always wore long hide the track marks).

    the second time a coworker was fired for stealling drugs was trickey-er. this time she was not the user but was stealing drugs for her boyfriend. looking back the only clue that i can see is that her patients were always
    rowdy and complaining of pain and unsatisfied..the nights that she worked were always more heckit than other nights.

    in both instances they were lpn's that would give the medicine for the rn and have her to one way or another chart it or sign for it which implicated alot of people and made it harder to track them down. this is why i do not like to work with nor do i think rehabiliated drug users need to be floor nurses.

    i good way to check is to ask the patient after the pain med has been signed out if he received his pain med and did it help.
    i have a few few more years of sobriety since this thread began. also a better outlook on everything,,, but, i think maybe you should open your mind a little bit. it is your perogative to not want to work with recovering nurses. but, as stated in many other posts, the recovering nurse is not the one you need to worry about. it is the plain jane nurse who has never been in trouble before, the one who no one is watching. the one you would never expect,, until it gets really bad, then the signs and symptoms start showing up. with the recovering nurse, she has jumped through hoops of fire to keep her license. thats how much being a nurse means to her. she has to take random drug screens and call in everyday to find out if today is the day. she is not impaired. and if she does get impaired, it is caught right away. it does not go on for months, years, like you see with nurses who have never been diagnosed.

    most addicts are very good actors and impaired nurses are the best of actors... they hide their addiction from the workplace. they even hide thier feelings about their addiction to theirselves, until, of course, they become sober and start to recover.

    i want to reitterate it again: the recovering nurse is not the nurse you need to be worried about.
  5. by   RecoveringRN
    Quote from AirforceRN
    I'm pretty much torn on this one. On the one hand I think hmmmm, nurses who are recovering addicts working in a position of easy access to narcs...probably not a good idea. On the other hand everyone deserves a second chance and people can change. People like cattitude who have the power to admit a problem and will find a job that is in their field but restricts them access are great...good work to you cattitude.
    Incidently...I don't believe addiction is a disease. Although it may seem like one in the end, it starts as a choice and progresses from there. It also ends with a choice. Do I have a disease because I smoke tobacco? Personally, I don't think so, I think I just made an incredibly bad choice. I know the DSM lists it as a disease now and it is widely accepted that it is, I just disagree...but I have strong opinions on many things.
    Opinions are just that....opinions, and everyone has them. Yes the DSM lists addiction as a disease because there is medical evidence through genetic testing that it is inherited....thus it is an inherited disease. An addict is BORN with this genetic tendency. The first time they use a drug or take a drink that disease process is triggered. If they understand addiction and how it works then yes, it becomes a choice. But for most of us that had NO idea that we carried this genetically inherited disease it was not initially a choice. The disease processed was triggered and like any other disease it has it's own agenda. At some point if the person seeks help they can then put the disease into remission. After that yes, it becomes a choice. I have a choice today to use or not use but before I went through treatment and understood what I had, choice was not an option. It is an all consuming addiction...just like your addiction to tobacco is. Could you just up and quit smoking without withdrawals and WANTING another cigarette?? As for working, not only am I in recovery and have worked around narcotics, my husband is a pharmacist, owns his own pharmacy AND is in recovery from addiction. He works around it every day...temptation??? Of course. Is it worth dying for? NO.

    Opinions are OK but those based on bias, stigmas and/or prejudice should be kept to that person.
  6. by   AirforceRN
    Way to revive a necrothread!
    I strongly disagree with your last statement. I have every right to express my opinions. Ironically, the places in this world that prohibit the expression of opinions are also the ones that enforce capital punishment for drug use.
  7. by   RecoveringRN
    Quote from AirforceRN
    Way to revive a necrothread!
    I strongly disagree with your last statement. I have every right to express my opinions. Ironically, the places in this world that prohibit the expression of opinions are also the ones that enforce capital punishment for drug use.

    Your opinion versus medical proof...I think I'll go with the medical proof. I learned a long time ago there is no sense arguing with prejudice or preconception. Have a nice day
  8. by   subee
    Opinion above knowledge: GRRRRRREAT Motto! (: