Stealing Drugs from Nursing Home: Case Study Example

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Carnegie Mellon University
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This case study involves a scenario where a nurse engages in stealing the drugs from a nursing home and subsequently selling them. This act is a risk to the patients who require the medical care, nurse R who is likely to face disciplinary measures and the nursing home itself since it will affect its image.

Risks Involved and Ethical Implication

The greatest danger is likely to affect the patients who require the medication. Stealing the drugs will lead to a shortage of stock in the nursing home thus making the supply of the medicines to be less compared to their demand (Cooper, 2007). The patients with the critical disease may not get the medications prescribed thus leading to death or worsening of their situations.

The other risk is for the nurse R who is the victim of the theft. She risked being fired from the medical facility and further being charged in court for her actions. She was relieved of duties and arrested. The other risk is with the nursing home since it painted their image negatively. The family members of the residents filed a lawsuit against them since they felt that they have been using the resources negatively. People in future may avoid the services of the nursing home.

This case gives rise to ethical and legal implications in trying to resolve the matter. This case of drug diversion is likely to damage the reputations of both the nurse R and her employer (nursing home). The career of the nurse R will be destroyed because she will be fired and also deregistered from the council of nurses. On the other hand, she will face legal and criminal prosecution because of this civil malpractice action. She is likely to face imprisonment of being heavily fined. The other ethical implication will be against the nursing home as it may also be blamed for the lack of policies which prevent drug diversion and care of the patients. They may face legal actions which will lead to negative consequences for the institution.

Rationale and Steps for the Solution

To solve this case, an investigation should be conducted first to determine the nature of the drug diversion and its effects. This will help to ascertain the weight of the case when filing a lawsuit. After collecting information, I will fire the nurse R from the institution and file the case in the courts so that she will be prosecuted for her criminal actions. The other step is to review the policies and procedures such as monitoring tools so as to reduce cases of drug diversion. Risk areas where there are chances of stealing will be installed with a surveillance camera.

I will further educate the staff on the effects and risks of engaging in drug diversion and how they can monitor and prevent drug diversion in the future. The other step is to develop procedures which will help launch an investigation in potential cases of drug diversion. An example is notifying law enforcement agencies immediately so that the victim will be apprehended.

Major Ethical Issue and Legal Issues

The major ethical issue here is dishonesty practiced by the nurse R. the nurse is required to do her job according to guidelines of the nursing home which requires her always to be honest while performing the duties. She is required to deliver the medicines to the patients without engaging in fraudulent ways like diverting the drugs to other sources. This shows a greater ethical issue which is dangerous not only to the nurse but also to the entire institution.

Individuals Affected By the Situation

The patients are the most affected group since they are likely to lack drugs which are prescribed to them by the doctors. Having less medicine endangers their lives as the disease may not be well cured. The family members of the patients may be affected as they will incur more costs in buying drugs and the lives of their member may be further affected. Doctors and other nursing administration will face rebellion from the members of the public and courts, and they have to be accountable to the situation. They will incur costs due to possible fines and damage to their reputations. Lastly, the policy makers in the healthcare will be tasked to formulate policies which will prevent future cases of drug diversion in medical institutions.

Action Plan to Resolve the Issue

The primary action plan to address this issue is proper monitoring and control of medication areas. The store where the drugs are stored should be well secured using either surveillance cameras or assigning a caretaker who will be responsible in case of loss of the drugs (Inciardi, Surratt, Kurtz, & Cicero, 2007). The drugs given to the patients should be well recorded so that the amount of stock will be easily be analyzed. In the case of loss, the drugs will be easily traced and subsequently knowing the cause of the losses.

Monitoring policies should be implemented so as to curb actions of the nurses like accessing sensitive medical equipment which is hard to be traced. In several cases experienced in medical facilities, nurses have been stealing products like syringes and drugs prompting them to introduce Automated Dispensing Machine storage (Lachman, 2012). This machine helped to monitor how drug and equipment are being used.

Personal Reaction

In my opinion, the nurses should be well taught on the effects and consequences of stealing drugs from health care institutions. In this case, nurse R should be appropriately disciplined so that other nurses will be scared of practicing the same illegal practices in the future. The efforts by Kevin should be appreciated through salary increment or promotion because he is very ethical among other nurses in the nursing home.



Inciardi, J. A., Surratt, H. L., Kurtz, S. P., & Cicero, T. J. (2007). Mechanisms of prescription drug diversion among druginvolved cluband streetbased populations. Pain Medicine, 8(2), 171-183.

Lachman, V. D. (2012). Applying the ethics of care to your nursing practice. Medsurg Nursing, 21(2), 112.

National Institute on Drug Abuse, & Cooper, J. R. (2007). The impact of prescription drug diversion control systems on medical practice and patient care (Vol. 131). US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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