Chemical dependence by nursing home staff can jeopardize patient care. It often results in impaired judgment, an increased number of medical mistakes, the neglect of residents, and the diversion of medications for the nurse’s own use. A growing number of nursing home staff members are suffering from drug addiction, partially due to easy access to prescription narcotics that are stocked for residents.
Nursing Home Staff Addicted to Drugs
Staff drug abuse is a concern in nursing homes around the country. It is linked to many cases of neglect and abuse of nursing home residents. Like most healthcare facilities, nursing homes keep a large supply of prescription medications like morphine, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, and Percocet on hand for residents. This means easy access to strong narcotic drugs for nursing home staff members who are addicted.
Recently, several stories of drug theft in nursing homes have hit the news. In each case, a staff member or nurse stole resident medications for his or her own use or to sell to outside sources.
- The Lacrosse Tribune reported on a registered nurse at Vernon Manor nursing home who allegedly stole resident pain medications including Fentanyl and Vicodin. She is facing multiple drug charges and possible prison time.
- Mlive.com reported on a registered nurse at a Northern Michigan nursing home who allegedly stole morphine. She is facing two felony charges and prison time.
- WLKY reported on a staff member in a Mount Washington, Kentucky nursing home who was arrested for stealing resident medications to support her drug addiction.
Alcohol and/or drug dependence among nurses averages around 10 percent. Drug use among nurses is often linked to long work hours, heavy workloads, high job stress, and easy access to prescription medications.
When staff members, nurses, and caregivers in nursing homes have a drug addiction, residents often suffer from neglect and abuse. They’re robbed of necessary medications for illnesses and chronic pain and neglected by caregivers. Many elderly nursing home residents can’t communicate their pain. Many are unaware that they haven’t received their medications.
Family members and friends should be aware of prescription drug theft in nursing homes where their loved ones reside. Prescription drugs have become a hot commodity on the black market and nursing homes provide the perfect environment for theft of these drugs. Any signs of neglect or abuse should be promptly reported to local authorities who can investigate the situation.