Skip to main content

A nurse struggles

Kelsey isn't sure how she got to this point. After a difficult separation, and then a car accident, she began taking narcotics prescribed by her doctor for a back injury. When her prescription ran out, she began using narcotics from her workplace that should have been wasted. Now, Kelsey is taking (diverting) narcotics intended for clients.


How did she get here?

When Kelsey’s doctor discontinued her hydromorphone, she was already taking it more frequently than prescribed. To lessen her cravings for the medication, she’d also begun taking hydromorphone from the medical unit she worked on.

Initially she’d take the hydromorphone if her patient declined the medication, falsifying the patient’s health record to cover up her use. Then she began picking up extra shifts and getting her assignments changed, increasing opportunities to access hydromorphone. She always took out the maximum ordered dose for her patients, giving the patient half and keeping the rest for herself.

A turning point

One day, while preparing a dose of injectable hydromorphone for a patient, Kelsey found herself pocketing the wastage. Unable to wait until the end of her shift to use it, she went to the charge nurse, telling her she was sick and had to go home. Over the next couple of weeks she began taking injectable hydromorphone from work any chance she got. She sought out opportunities to access hydromorphone such as offering to administer the medication for patients assigned to her colleagues.

Not long after Kelsey began using injectable hydromorphone at home, she found herself in a bathroom at work injecting herself. She knows her colleagues are noticing she’s often gone significantly longer than her allotted break time. Her drug use is escalating; she’s feeling guilty and scared. Kelsey knows what she’s doing is wrong, but she can’t stop. She knows she has a problem but doesn’t know who to talk to or where to get help. She’s scared of losing her job and her nursing license.

Next: A colleague acts >>

What are my reporting responsibilities? >>

<< Back to main page