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Old 10-15-2010, 09:16 AM
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Default stealing & diverting meds = keep the job??

I don't get this. We recently learned that an RN (charge nurse no less) was brought in to explain discrepancies and...suspicions. So she admitted to using heroin for three years, shooting up where it wouldn't be seen. She admitted to stealing narcs from the Pyxis for her own use. She admitted to taking out meds under patients' names and signing their MAR that she GAVE them the meds, but really she took them herself.

So we've got illegal drug use (ok, go to rehab). Then we've got stealing narcs from hospital (should be instant dismissal but hey, this place has "flexible" rules). But what kills me is she took meds out that were charged to patients, falsified legal documents, altered patients' medical records to show they were using painkillers that they were not...and she HASN'T been canned??? Of course this will be or has been reported to the State BON, who I imagine would have to suspend her license at the least, but who knows.

This is all new, so she's "out on sick leave indefinitely" which is the code for "she's in rehab like it or not". And when asked directly about whether this nurse was actually fired (since no one wants to see her return to a position of supervision over drugs and nurses, DUH), the manager says "well, it's not up to me, sometimes they decide to take them back.....there was someone who stole Percocet and she was allowed to come back to work".

SERIOUSLY?? I think the stealing of the Percocet equals losing the job in the first place, but aside from that, it's hardly the same thing as what this nurse did over the course of YEARS. Falsifying documents. Charging fraudulently. Allowing patients' doctors to think they were taking drugs they weren't. And this is even a consideration for continuing employment???

I gotta get out of here, I swear. If this woman comes back to work, how the hell can anyone ever trust her ever?? She's responsible for the floor for heaven's sake, witnessing wastes of narcs, overriding, ADMINISTERING. Please don't medicate my patients, thanks.....

/vent
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Old 10-15-2010, 10:24 AM
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I think some of this depends on the state you work in (right to work vs. not) and who employs you and what their policies are. I definitely can see the "addiction is a medical illness" card being played in similar instances. I think many, many people lose their jobs over issues like this, but that's not always the case.

My bet as far as what is happening in this scenario is that this person is trying to negotiate to keep her job with HR. Some employers give an admission of guilt some leeway and will build a corrective action plan. Yes...I have seen some people keep their jobs, even on the floor, under a program supervised by the BON. I think if there is a nurses union to advocate for you, the chances of you keeping your job are even higher.

The one person I have known in recent years that this happened to (or, did it to herself, however you look at it) voluntarily resigned and checked herself into rehab. Here is the thing -- I just recently looked up her BON information -- her court case says that she had been addicted to her own prescription pain pills since 1998. She started diverting drugs from the hospital in 2003. My employer -- a HUGE medical system -- found out and put her on a corrective action plan in 2005 (this was all in the court case.) She was caught again in 2008 (!!!! really? 3 years later?) and resigned. I have heard that she now works in an outpatient setting for an IV service inserting PICC lines -- so no diversion going on there. Previously, she was an ICU float. She would go around to all the floors and help out -- and now, looking back on it, "give" tons of drugs. I called her up to pull a sheath on my patient once (we aren't trained to do that in my ICU) and she called the doctor and got an order for fent/versed. I thought that was a little weird, but I didn't put two and two together at the time. There were a lot of other instances like that. And, I never really did put it together, until she got caught, and resigned.

I think working with impaired nurses is a lot more common than we all realize.

My opinion is that no, we shouldn't allow this. Even if we can tolerate the disease process, IMO the theft should not be tolerated.
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Old 10-15-2010, 10:55 AM
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I've lost nursing jobs for not being able to pass meds quickly enough, and people who steal them from pts who need pain relief get to kep their jobs?

What's wrong with this picture?
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:32 PM
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The nursing board will not allow her to work in an area with access to narcotics for some time if and when she does the program and they allow her to work as a nurse.........
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Old 10-15-2010, 02:00 PM
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Methinks Crunch is right...if the BON is involved, it will likely be some time before she can be anywhere near narcs. I'm thinking that supervisory positions may be off the table for a period as well...

At any rate, I hope she is successful in her recovery and that you guys get along a little bit better now.
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Old 10-15-2010, 03:48 PM
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What crunch and dria said. I hope the nurse gets the help she needs.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:14 PM
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No one doesn't want her to get help....of course we do. What we have a problem with is our nurse manager's attitude that there's no reason to not put her back in the same job she had: night charge nurse on a surgical floor with few staff, lots of patients and LOTS of narcotics.

This isn't about her having a drug problem that she'll get help for. It's about utter disbelief that we have every expectation she'll be back before long, back to the usual: stumbling in late, bleary-eyed and sleepy during work hours, helping herself the the candy box aka Pyxis and then staying late into overtime to do the "charting" she didn't get around to doing while she was out smoking or sleeping.

This wasn't a super nurse who had an unknown problem she didn't take to work. It affected her daily and administration turned a blind eye as long as they had a warm body in the charge seat (no one wants our job, by the way).
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dria View Post
Methinks Crunch is right...if the BON is involved, it will likely be some time before she can be anywhere near narcs. I'm thinking that supervisory positions may be off the table for a period as well...

At any rate, I hope she is successful in her recovery and that you guys get along a little bit better now.
I don't remember posting about her before, or whether we got along or not.....I'm sure you don't work with us (that would kinda suck since I don't think anyone from work IS here). At any rate, it isn't personal, it's professional, and my frustration is that this is a nurse who honestly shouldn't hold the job she does now anyway (sleeps, poor supervision, always late, fakes "busy" so she can get overtime, is out on "sick" time more than any ten people put together).

No doubt all of the above is related to her drug use, of course. But what kind of message is it to the staff that does their jobs if all of what's happened doesn't matter?
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:49 PM
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I think the BON are way tooo easy on nurses who divert narcotics and/or work while high. I believe it's an illness, I believe they need treatment, but I don't believe they should be able to return to their same job and still have access to the narcotics. At least not for a good long while.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:52 AM
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Tazzi, I see your "staying out of it" post and then a "changed my mind" deleted post....I think I read somewhere here that you had once had a drug problem and that's of course influencing your thoughts on this subject, just like those who haven't also have that as an influence.

I don't want you to feel you can't post on this topic, particularly since this is NOT about a nurse having a drug problem who sought help, got it, and then goes to work somewhere where she can't have easy access to the very narcs that were the problem in the first place.

This is about a nurse who worked stoned for years on the drugs she stole from her employer and from her patients. While perhaps one could argue that patients weren't victims if they weren't using the meds anyway, it's a poor argument since the final nail in the coffin (where she was CAUGHT) was when she didn't give meds to an IN pain patient. This was corroberated (sp??) by a guard at the patient's bedside who swore that the patient did not get IV meds q2h (turns out it was Nurse who did). Why on earth she'd be so bold as to do this with a patient in police custody is anybody's guess--I really don't think she wanted to be caught, but that her judgment had gotten that bad.

And I do see it as victimization of patients when their medical records now reflect IV drug use during their hospital stay that they did not take, and their insurance or selves were billed for drugs they did not get.

I don't think she should come back to work at this hospital because there's NO place she can work without needing access to narcs. She doesn't do PICC lines; she works med-surg. I'm not saying her life should be ruined and never be allowed to work as a nurse ever in the future, but I AM angry that my nurse manager and higher up administration are "unsure" of whether she should return as nighttime charge nurse on our very busy, often understaffed, very drug-filled unit. Are they kidding??

UPDATE: Found out she signed herself out AMA yesterday of the drug rehab program she was forced to go into. We're now making bets on how long it is before she's back on the job.
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