Nursing home Employees Taking Patients' Narcotics

By Josh Silverman on June 01, 2014

Medication errors in hospitals and nursing homes are almost always avoidable.  In the past I've commented about accidental medication errors which are by large the most common types of medication errors.  However, diversion of narcotics is a serious and unfortunately common type of medication error.  Calling it an "error" is probably a misnomer as it is a crime.  Medical facilities are supposed to keep careful count of all narcotics to protect the safety of residents.  There is no foolproof way to stop all criminal actions.  

Here's a link to a story about West Virginia nursing home employees who apparently were taking residents' narcotics.   The article is short so we don't have all the facts and of course there is always a presumption of innocence.  

Reasons for theft of narcotics are obvious.  They are stolen for personal use or for resale.  In either case these are not victim-less crimes because the patients are left to suffer needlessly without their pain relievers.  

Nursing homes must be vigilant to prevent these crimes.  Nursing homes should conduct criminal background checks on all employees, they should have a system in place to keep accurate count of all medications especially narcotics, and careful oversight of the staff is critical.  Most nurses are honest and work hard to provide excellent care to their patients.  Only by holding bad nurses and nursing homes accountable can we keep the hard work of good nurses from being spoiled by the bad apples.

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