Aussie Nurses Swipe Drugs and Sell 'Em

By Jennifer Matesa 08/02/11

Hospitals in New South Wales report mass thefts by workers.

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In the past 18 months New South Wales hospitals have reported more than 180 incidents of workers stealing drugs—and in 25% of cases oxycodone was the drug being swiped. The numbers—released yesterday through a public information access act—also show that so far this year six nurses have been caught with “addictive drugs.” They were consequently stripped of their licenses. One nurse apparently locked herself in a bathroom and was found unconscious with a needle in her arm. Blood tests showed she had taken a bizarre cocktail of morphine, Versed—a drug used to induce “twilight sleep” during outpatient surgical procedures—and metaclopramide, an anti-nausea drug. As well as morphine, the substances being stolen include Demerol and fentanyl, used in Australia primarily for cancer treatment. Paul Dillon, the director of Drug and Alcohol Research Training Center Australia, noted the black market for the drugs stolen and voiced the opinion that most of the drug-pilfering workers down under are selling them: “[Stealing] oxycodone would be about money.”

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Jennifer Matesa is a Voice Award Fellow at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is the author of the blog Guinevere Gets Sober. She is the author of several books, including the non-fiction, The Recovering Body, about physical and spiritual fitness for living clean and sober. You can find Jennifer on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.

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