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What Kind of Nurse Would Steal a Patient’s Meds?

I’ve been putting off writing on this type of story because it seems so tabloid-like and puts nurses in a bad light. Unfortunately, it seems like every day I see updates or a new story about how a nurse or pharmacy technician has stolen patient medications. I just can’t fathom what could go on in a person’s mind to get to such a low point as to stealing drugs from a patient.
I read a story on Minnesota.cbs.local.com that appalled me. A nurse, Sarah May Casareto, was supposed to administer drugs to a patient who was to have his kidney stones removed. “The patient should have received 500 mcg of Fetanyl, a schedule II controlled substance. Instead, authorities allege Casareto ‘wasted’ more than half the drug and took 50 for herself. The patient received 150 mcg — about a third of the intended dosage.”
Furthermore, what completely disturbed me was that the patient was “screaming and moaning during the procedure” while the nurse appeared to be tired, dizzy,” belligerent and disoriented”. First of all, if a patient is in that much distress, wouldn’t the other staff present try to tend to his needs? Wouldn’t they know that something was amiss if the appropriate dosage of Fetanyl was administered? Secondly, if the nurse who consumed the medication was acting strangely, not performing her tasks and appeared “intoxicated”, shouldn’t someone have pulled her aside or removed her from assisting with a medical procedure?
The article on the website continues by saying that “After the procedure, a colleague found Casareto with two unlabeled syringes in her pocket. The colleague told her to throw the syringes away, and she emptied one syringe and threw it in the garbage…The colleague then refused to sign the medication sheet after the surgery, believing medication had been wasted or unused.
“When doctors and human resources representatives later confronted Casareto on the matter, they found an additional four empty syringes in her scrubs. She was asked to take a drug test, but instead resigned from the hospital… Casareto later met with police and told them she was dependent on pain medication.”
As a professional in Vocational Nursing, pharmacy technician, or RN, this incident just reminds me how important it is to be the patient’s advocate, not just protecting them from illness or injury, but from any source that may hinder the result of healing.
For more information, please go to:
http://www.kare11.com/news/article/906363/391/Charges-Nurse-stole-drugs-from-patient-before-surgery
and
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/02/09/nurse-charged-with-taking-painkiller-from-patient/

1 reply
  1. kidney stone
    kidney stone says:

    I read a story – “Patient of the Abbott northwestern Hospital sues”, which, I believe is the same story you refer to. How anyone can do something like this is beyond me. Not only is it a betrayal of a patients trust in her carer but also shows a complete lack of empathy for the patient. Thankfully this kind of situation is still a rare occurrence and the majority of nurses are wonderful angels. My respects to you Christina for having the courage and strength of character to write about this and my thanks to all nurses who provide the much needed care that patients need. Where would we be without you?

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