Drug Diversion by Healthcare Personnel Outside the US

UK Nurse Accused of Forging Prescriptions for Painkilling Drugs

A series of articles in the Gloucestershire Echo is detailing the events in a crown court hearing in which a nurse from Cheltenham General Hospital stands accused of drug diversion (see articles here: Cheltenham Nurse Denies Forging Prescriptions and Cheltenham Nurse took Advantage of Working in Hospital to Obtain Drugs for Herself). Aside from a few egregious cases involving patient harm, we don’t hear much about diversion by healthcare personnel outside the US. This nurse shares the same type of ‘profile’ we so often see in nurses suspected of diverting in the US. Specifically, she has a history of chronic pain, a previous legitimate prescription for the drug(s) allegedly diverted, and a number of personal stressors she has been trying to cope with. This case has many similarities to cases I have investigated. In one case, a young nurse with chronic back pain told me that he had tried to avoid using opioids because of concerns about drowsiness at work. Ultimately, on a shift in which the pain reportedly became unbearable, the nurse turned to diversion. Although he tried not to divert after the first incident, he had “crossed the line” and continued to divert regularly until he was caught nearly a month later.

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