A nurse who stole drugs from patients of the nursing home at which she worked was recently sentenced in federal court to four months in prison. She pleaded guilty to acquiring a controlled substance through subterfuge. Police and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigators say the nurse took oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and other drugs from the nursing home. She attempted to hide her medication theft by documenting in the patients' records that the drugs had been administered. According to the article, the nurse abused some of the drugs she stole and sold others. Read more about the nurse's narcotic theft.
I reported on January 18, 2008 about two similar stories involving different nursing homes and different nurses. The names change but the stories all seem the same. When nurses at nursing homes and assisted living facilities steal and use or sell their own patients' narcotics, "narcotic diversion" occurs. In each of these stories, there is the sadness of a nurse caught up in a drug addiction, but there is also the more disturbing reality that patients throughout the facility have been receiving care from an addicted and impaired nurse.
It's not just a nurse problem, though. The nursing homes and assisted living facilities that emloy these nurses are responsible for exercising care over the security of their patients' narcotic inventories. These facilities are also responsible for identifying narcotic diversion by staff whenever and whereever it occurs. How? Facilities identify narcotic diversion in a number of ways.
For example, they are supposed to audit periodically their patients' records to reconcile the medications in the patients' individual narcotics inventories (as documented on "controlled substances logs") with individual patient's "medication administration records" (MARs) that (reportedly) confirm the medications that were given. When narcotics disappear from a patient's inventory but aren't documented as having been administered, the facility must suspect "narcotic diversion."
Nurses identified as impaired shouldn't be allowed to provide patient care, and a facility with "impaired" medication administration practices should fix its diversion problems so they never happen again. If they don't, its neglect!________________________________________________________________
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Sun, February 3, 2008
by Robert Carter