Doctors and Nurses Under the Influence puts Patients at risk

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Posted on May 10, 2014


      USA Today posted a story on their website about nurses and physicians being under the influence of narcotics while assisting patients. They wrote about a nurse who would steal pain medication that would be for a patient and installed an intravenous port in her ankle to administer the drugs more effectively. This nurse, Anita Bertrand, stated to USA Today that she does not remember how many patients she may have put at risks and talks about how easy it was to get away with it.

Anita said she would be impaired most of the time while she was working and that no one ever noticed. She even went on to say that she does not remember if she made mistakes and is not aware of any mistakes if they had been made.

This is scary. Medical professionals that are there to help us, are working impaired. Across the country, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as oxycodone and fentanyl. The knowledge and access they have make it easier for them to obtain these narcotics and make their problems harder to detect. "et the risks they pose--- to the public and to themselves--- are enormous.

When a health care worker steals drugs from their job it is referred to as "drug diversion". "Drug diversion" can endanger the lives of many--- thousands reported USA Today. 8,000 patients in New Hampshire had to all get hepatitis tests after a hospital technician by the name of David Kwiatkowski was caught injecting himself with patients' pain medicine and refilling the syringes with saline. He had infected at least 46 patients.

We go to the hospital to get better, not to get worse. Mistakes happen all the time in hospitals, but being treated by a medical professional under the influence is not acceptable! To know that these medical professionals work under the influence undetected is cause for alarm. Just like regular employees who undergo drug tests to work at certain jobs, these medical professionals should be tested as well. And if they test positive for drugs that are not documented in their medical records, they should lose their licenses and fired. 

There are even shows on TV like Nurse Jackie and House M.D., that show doctors and nurses who work under the influence of narcotics and those around them who cover for them. While these are both shows for entertainment, they show a pretty accurate portrayal of what goes on in the 'real world'.

"The medical community thinks it's immune from this disease, but that's not true," says Bertrand, who had no history of drug use until she got hooked on pain medication after an abdominal surgery. "There are so many practitioners working impaired and we have no idea. ... We're doing a terrible job addressing this problem." ---- USA Today

For more information about this story head over to the USA Today website.

Patient safety means preventing mistakes using a variety or systems, guidelines, protocols and checks.

At Donahoe Kearney, LLP we help clients harmed by medical malpractice and their families. We hold hospitals, HMOs and healthcare corporations accountable for the harms they cause to patients. If you work with us, you will get our experience as nationally board certified trial lawyers to help solve some of the problems you face-whether you have a child with cerebral palsy due to hospital malpractice, have lost a loved one because of HMO medical errors or are a patient injured due to medical malpractice

Contact us and let us help you. With us you get individual attention. You get a thorough investigation. And you get answers. It's a process. And you can't go it alone. 


Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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