Healthcare Employees Caught – Contributing to the Opioid Crisis

Healthcare Employees Caught – Contributing to the Opioid Crisis

By Staff.

Two new stories popped up the day after Christmas, that shared an unfortunate similarity – both were reporting healthcare employees engaged in stealing and/or over-prescribing pain pills, and both stories illustrate ways in which the opioid crisis has arisen around chronic pain patients – not due to their own activity, but rather by those who are supposed to be helping them…and at the patients’ cost.

In one instance a nursing facility employee in Grand Rapids Minnesota “kept more than 1,900 opioid tablets intended for clients for herself over two years.”

According to the story by  for Forum News Service, “The facility’s clients sometimes went without pain medications as a result, according to the report.”

“The investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Health Facility Complaints also found that other staff members were aware of the theft but didn’t report it because of fear of retaliation by the employee and by management at the facility.”

Read the full story here.

In the second story, a pain clinic nurse in Tennessee prescribed “more than 31 times the current recommendation by the state’s government,” yet was “able to keep her nursing license after giving a patient 51 pills a day in 2011.”

According to article by OAN Newsroom, “The state’s Department of Health said her prescriptions were so large they could only be used for suicide and drug trafficking,” and that the nurse “reportedly continued to give out prescriptions even after patients failed drug tests, lost pills or even overdosed.”

The worst part is that “Tennessee’s Board of Nursing allowed Collins to continue writing opioid prescriptions.”

The nurse “was sentenced to two-years of professional probation, but continued to work at small clinics and nursing homes in the Knoxville area. The state has petitioned a judge to order the board to reconsider.”

Read the full story here.

It’s a shame to read these stories and know that they contribute to the “opioid crisis” narrative and the accompanying knee-jerk solutions impacting pain patients. On the other hand, if more emphasis were placed on identifying people such as those in the stories above – and less emphasis on umbrella policies and guidelines, perhaps a more informed and balanced approach could be realized.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Authored by: Staff

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Christine Hawkins

I’m very confused, I have had 2 back surgeries
6 sets of a combination a caudal and steroid injections I moved from one town to another in Florida and in the five years I’ve lived in Orlando have not been able to find a decent pain management doctor. I was on 10 325 oxycodone and when my pain was at a low level I would take buprenorphine4mg. And I had to leave that doctor had to go to another pain management doctor who wants to put me on vitamin IV. Or another set going through my back at a different direction I already have C4 C5 L2 L3 L4 L5 and S1 that are compromised. 65% of the time I’m in so much pain I want to cut my leg off.I was told today that I could not take adderall from my psychiatrist 4 OCD because they’re putting me on Suboxone why I have no idea I’m just totally confused, I did. Not ask for this pain. I did not ask to have neurosurgeons leave disc particles in my back. I had an orthopedic doctor tell me that I had a torn rotator cuff then I had to have surgery when it was a disc in my neck. All of these things have been going on within the last year. My last pain management doctor from about four years ago was giving me 40 mg of extended Oxycontin + 15sfor breakthrough pain. I exercise I can’t stand up and walk for over a half an hour because my leg starts hurting. Now Suboxine? and now I hear that Suboxone is more addicting than Sebutex. All my last doctor was trying to do was when I did have pain to take pain medication and when I didn’t have pain I could take Subutex that way I had a choice but now I’m hearing that I could have overdosed and died

William Dorn

This proves that its not pain patients but criminals that are causing the problem. Let us have the medicines we need to live a life without pain.

Barbara

We’re all in this boat together and no oars to go anywhere. My Dr. is weaning me off my pain med after being on it for years. I never missused it. I don’t sell it. My quality of life is already suffering. It’s like the kid in the classroom, one gets in trouble and everyone suffers. The rug has been pulled out from under us with no warning. Go after the ones who over-prescribed the opiods. The pharmacies filling and not keeping track of the missuse. Give us some help here. Who is pressuring our doctors to cut us off? Why aren’t our physicians who we put out trust in fight for us?

I am beyond sickened over the pain med cuts.i was able to take care of my children, take care of my sick ,also disabled mother who has also been affected by this chrisis so I speak for not just the two of us but everyone else who’s just took it like it is bc we got no choice.i would gothe gym pretty regularly,cook for my family, Clean my house.now all I do is stay in bed and cry bc the pain is too excruciating to even get up to do anything at all.my kids understand what’s going on but how is this fair that one day out of no where mom does nothing anymore,not even cook dinner for them bc I can’t stand longer than a minute at this point.i have no quality of life or interest to Even live most days bc no one should be forced from a livable,fairly comfortable lifestyle bc their Dr is doing their job well and Actually Managing the pain to now my Dr is so sickened by this that she just took an extended leave of absence so now I’m even more screwed smhsmh PLEASE END THIS NIGHTMARE NOW BEFORE MORE PEOPLE LOSE THEIR LIVES TO THE AGONY

Frances Nittinger

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and can only barely function with 1 low dose Norco twice a day. I still can’t do all my housekeeping, cooking, etc. each day. I am scared to death the Norco will be stopped due to the order to stop prescribing it. I will not be able to clean my house, bathe or basically live. I might as well be dead because my quality of life will be unbearable.

Dani

This now a massive health care crisis with pharmacies not filling opioid prescriptions, doctor’s scared spitless of repercussions of relieving the suffering of millions. Drug makers told by Trump/Congress to cut manufacturing of pills. This is INSANITY! Drug addiction has not changed in 100 years, it is hysteria the CDC has caused and the suicide rate is racking up from people who cannot control their pain unable to get them medicines made to help them. When a government can tell your doctor what he can and cannot do to relieve your suffering we are now a dictatorship. This MUST be fixed now and there may be help on the way. HHS released this just yesterday, wanting to hear from pain patients, this must go viral: http://nationalpainreport.com/healthcare-employees-caught-contributing-to-the-opioid-crisis-8838157.html#comment-226332

Rich Reifsnyder

Hi, Joseph Lane you are right on the money.We Intractable Chronic Pain Patients Have Four Disguting choices..Suffer tremendous pain,comitt suicide,go to Kolondy,s addiction centers for Suboxon,or go to the streets for poison,Fentynal laced pills!!You would be astonished to see how many Senators and Congresspeople who have a lot of personal money invested in addiction centers,just like their Mentor Kolondy.This is turning into a Suicide Epedemic.A lot of Doctors and Pain Specialists are calling this the worst Human Rights Violation in our nations history.In 2016 the CDC was “supposed”to look at “unintended consequences”that the Opiod Guidelines caused!!!Guess what, the Guidelines were intentional and weaponized to prosecute Our Pain Specialists and seize their assets.It is a War against us ,Pain Patients,Veterans and Our Pain Specialists.All the heads of the alphabet agencies,Kolondy and all that caused thousands of our Veterans and Intractable Chronic Pain Patients to commit suicide and the suffering of 50-100 million of us should be prosecuted for Crimes Against Humanity,Homicide,and Torture Of Disabled Veterans and Intractable Chronic Pain Patients.Happy New Year to all our Brothers And Sisters And Veterans Going Through This Torture.God Bless All.

Steven

The funny thing is since my GA heard I was in pain denial he wont even give me a referral. I really think I have a serious issue that is undiagnosed. But Obamacare is only for the heatthy.

Steven

I am having to add homless now as the pills run out. Even my family has no empathy left and the doctors aid has laid an exact mme denial down to 90. I have said I cannot do it for the last time. No sense in a refill really. I give up. I will stop by the mortuary tomorrow. Thanks to the NPR and community.

Dale Long

DEA, biggest waste of Federal dollars in crime prevention. Will soon have been in existence for almost 50 years, drug trafficking and addicts at there highest numbers ever. Time to write this agency off as the large failure it is. But there is too much money involved to do that until the SPINELESS politicians start telling the public the truth. Money for more cops, money for more prosecutors and judges, money for the prisons, especially the private prisons.

There will always be a percentage of society with addictive genetic disposition. One tenth of what we waste at DEA could more than cover treatment for those, or they will overdose and die.

What is happening to protect the dollars coming in is inventing a new scapegoat the Chronic Pain Patient, where they can threaten the livelihood of Doctors licensed to legally prescribe, as well as pharmaceutical companies, while they DUPE the public into thinking they are accomplishing something. When all they are doing with our governments blessing is torturing citizens of this country.

Let me be clear, there are some medical professionals operating outside of the law when it comes to opiates, but the DEA is doing nothing but creating a nonexistent problem to keep the cash flowing their way.

Maryann Holland

I really think it’s terrible what happened I worked in a nursing home for 13 years I was only in dietary but I know that there are times that when people died or went home that sometimes letting go with their meds they had loads and loads and loads of med packets I have no idea what was done with Them they were supposed to be disposed of by some form of going to the state as far as I know I still seeing lots of medication still around now and I am very sick and I need The pain meds that used to make me be able to have a normal life the one thing that was always told to us in a nursing home that the quality of life is the most important thing for our patients I did the best I could with my cooking I cooked a lot of things That we’re not frozen but always homemade so my patients felt loved the idea of a person doing this to people who have no one sometimes to even be there for them are used to visit some patience I send Heiser patient is asked to go to the bathroom and I would tell the nurses and just get put off.i’m not saying that all nursing homes are bad it’s just that I think if I person can stay at home with a live-in nurse that is better for . But as for taking away the medication that Fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients along with some other diseases or do you need the opiates I hate being in bed are used to be able to have a quality-of-life know the government has taken away from me and everybody else who has our diseases just because people Them abused our only hope of having a normal life .

William Dorn

Why wont the state of Tennessee look at the true facts about overdoses. It is not pain patients its illegal drugs. They must not care about us because there is no reason to prevent chronic pain patients from getting the proper amount of medicines to live a happy and productive life. Maybe our new governor will look at the truth not the hyped up lies being reported.

I suggest all of you that receive pain management get your medical records. Contact the place where you have your urine tested and get your information directly a copy of your urine test directly from that facility not your doctor . You can find this information on your insurance charges . Then look on the web for their phone number . Don’t be surprised if the physician doesn’t want to give them to you. It is against HIPAA law that they don’t give them to you. Secondly get your prescription database for controlled substances get a copy of all of that you’ll be amazed how many mistakes were made. Don’t tell your pain physician that you have this this, it well get you dismissed. They don’t like you to have knowledge that you’re able to get these things. If the pharmacy will not give you your controlled substance database you can call the company that runs it Apriss their phone numbers on the web. You have a right to all this is part of your medical records. Don’t be surprised that your doctor will have things wrong, pharmacist on the database. But the government wants us to know how well this controlled substance database is working. Even on their own website it talks about how much mistakes are made on it. I was a naive chronic pain patient. Naive that I trusted Physicians, PA the whole system. The article about the nurse for over prescribing enough to kill someone, their supervisor had to relinquish his license for selling medication out of his home & never showing up to supervise the clinic. There’s an article Bearden Healthcare Associates physician relinquish license. I was a patient there for5 mos & wrote them a letter that I didn’t want their care anymore. Knowing I would probably never be able & which I’m not to get pain medication but these people were so unprofessional, rude & bunch of liars. Yes the people in charge can be crooked & we are naive to walk in & think we’re going to get adequate care. They only see dollar signs in US.

Sandy

There is a difference in using the medication too get high or using it for chronic pain. I have no quality of life because of people using it for the wrong reasons

These are both truly tragic stories. The tragic stories seem to be everywhere, in one shape form or fashion. Speaking of tragic stories that we’ve heard in the past, I would like to hear a happy ending to one of them please. I want to know if Bernie is still with us. Bernie please let us know you’re okay. I didn’t forget about you and I’m sure others didn’t either. Please let us know how are you are. Seems we all could use a little good news versus all the bad. With many prayers and lots of love to all of my brothers and sisters who live daily in chronic pain.

Chuck Malinowski

Stop using the words “opioid crisis.” All you are doing is perpetuating the hysteria.
We do not have a crisis of opioids, we have a pattern of individuals who are abusing opioids.
The two topics are not the same.
You’re missing use of the words “opioid crisis” are only contributing to the continued misperception of the issue.

Caregiver 24/7/365

I am replying to Terry’s comment, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

That said, Terry cites “Only 1.8% of ALL opioid overdoses are from legitimate chronic pain patients with legitimate prescriptions from their doctors.” I’d like to know where that statistic is found because I think it is VERY important in this ongoing battle to shed light on what I will call the “drug abuse and overdose crisis”, not (as others have pointed out) any so-called “opioid crisis”, which is a misnomer with consequences.

As others point out here, the real crisis is the denial of meds (actual and prospective) for people with intractible pain that robs them of their livelihoods, of the pleasures and normal activities in life, and (tragically) sometimes of their very lives — ended by suicide.

F.S.T.

Two more stories of abuse by health care employees, but not sure in and of themselves constitute any more threats than already exist to the chronic pain community.

There are plenty of stories of irresponsible doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others who have access to locked medications. My own personal encounter with a nurse who apparently stole my pain medication was my post-op recovery from a hysterectomy. I asked for, and she gave me, what I thought was my ordered IV pain med given via syringe thru the IV tubing. I did not get any relief, but at the time I thought it was just me. So I suffered through the first night. A few months later I was heartbroken to read the front page news that my nurse had been arrested for stealing IV pain meds from the hospital. I was a little irritated at first – how could she purposely make me suffer like that, and how many other victims were there? That is, IF she did it, but I’ve never not responded to post-op IV pain meds if I needed them. I was heartsick for her because the hard work and time necessary to obtain a Nursing education and licensure – I know because I’m a (retired) RN too – was down the drain for her now. Not to mention the embarrassment to her family. (The good news is in my state, the Board of Nursing has a peer assistance plan in place for nurses who are addicted, etc.) So i hope she got treatment and counseling and got back on the right track.

The two instances cited in this edition of the National Pain Report are probably just tiny drops in the bucket when compared to the big picture. And the big picture is the everyday chronic pain patient – like me, like you – needs a unified voice to help us be treated appropriately and pro-actively. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say “thank you” for all the information you bring to us to try to give us that voice.

Happy New Year! I’m going to be wide awake to usher 2019 in, how about you? Fibromyalgia messes with my sleep so much, of course I’ll be up!😜

I followed all the rules and lost my pain meds for seven months and endured severe pain. They were given back in Oct. but by then my pain level had been set even higher because of the torture I went through. On Dec. 12th. I had an exploretory laparotomy and hernia repair. My body had completely destroyed the webbing that was placed in Nov. 2017 to repair the same hernia. Before my surgery this time the anesthesiologist told me that my pain meds were taken from me because the government was experimenting on me (us) to see what happens to us if our pain meds are taken from us. He said they will never take my meds again that they only do this study on us once. I told him that unfortunately some of us never survived the experiment. I kid you not, I was told this. I have no trust any more that this will not be done to me again. My pain comes from a place in my abdomen that I have had since I can remember. My one doc always thought it was a bundle of nerves. It is hell on earth at its worst. As I write this I still sit in pain even with my small dose of meds.What they are doing to us is like Hitler. He was a madman and so are all those torturing us. Why can`t someone do something about this because of the human right violations? I am going to see if I am a candidate to possibly have the nerve removed if they can find the right one. I am desperate and will try anything, am so afraid of having my meds cut again. I want them to know how they have terrorized me and others. It is time to speak up even louder. The anesthesiologist talked to me for about half an hour, if what he told me is true I hope our dialogue did some good, we can only hope.

A. MacKenzie

Even citing an “opioid crisis” gives fuel to this fake issue harming all of us who need these VALID, LEGAL pharmaceuticals created for the purpose of relieving pain. Please don’t give credence by even using the term “opioid crisis”!!

Gretchen

I have 7 layers of metal from C3 through T2 my last of six cervicle surgeries a nurse keep telling me I didn’t need the med even though it was on the board in my room as too what time I was allowed too have them I asked him for them 3 times and was told I didn’t need them then I told him too get me his floor supervr and he refused I told him too get them now and he still refused so I told him I’ll just pick up the phone and talk too Hospital Administration if he refused so begrudgingly he got the floor supervisor and he was sent too the lab and drug tested never saw him again then one time I went too the pharmacy too fill my pain meds and was shorted 10 pills in my prescription I always stand at the counter and count them myself I call them out immediately for the missing pills and received them I advise everyone too be vigilant in this endeavor as a paitient just today went too pain managment and without any notice was knocked off one of my drugs by a non trustworthy Dr who said one thing and had his nurse then inform me they were force tapering me with in two weeks what a chicken this Dr is too tell me one thing and make his nurse do the dirty work I’ve done nothing wrong I’m sick of the stress and the disrespectful and the lying I’m frankly sick of it all I hate what is going on in what used too be America it is slowly killing me and many others when drug addicts have more rights and are more important then people who have done nothing thing wrong just because their injured or have a disease never thought we’d be worth less then a selfish street drug user who chooses too do this too themselves I need too hear what part the legislators have played in this debacle of crap our lives have become they have failed at their jobs and not one has said I have made mistakes in governing and they have they are very much at fault more so then the law bidding pain managed or disabled I guess they like too play the Blaime game when they truly should look in the mirror

Steven

Altough disheartening, since she was caught with them and not selling them perhaps her intention was to keep us alive as long as possible. I know many people who will be forced to the last
resort shortly. Althouth the media will present it as abuse any pain paient knows it is the last option of pain control. DEATH!!!

Terry

Well I don’t care what you’re talking about, whether it’s insurance fraud, lying to a doctor to get pain meds or over prescribing pain meds in a nursing facility and keeping the pills for your own use and not giving them to the people who really need them, there are always going to be people who abuse the system (s). Somehow though it feels like the anti-opiate folks like to clump all of the misuse, cheating and illegal distribution of opiates into one basket and call it an opioid epidemic. The misinformation that’s been spewed by the hard liners is what government officials tend to believe. See, by creating new DEA guidelines and scaring doctors to force taper legitimate chronic pain patients off of their life giving pain meds, it gives the illusion to the American people, that they are being proactive towards a misrepresented, nationwide opioid epidemic. When in fact all they’ve done is ruin the lives of chronic pain patients with legitimate prescriptions from their doctors. With all of the regulations in place and DEA enforcement mercilessly scaring doctors into being compliant, it’s like George Orwell’s 1984, big brother is definitely watching! I’m certain that there is an opioid epidemic, the only problem is that it’s heroin and fentanyl that’s causing it! Only 1.8% of ALL opioid overdoses are from legitimate chronic pain patients with legitimate prescriptions from their doctors. So tapering millions of people off of their pain meds is a nothing short of intentional torture, it is cruel and heartless and somebody needs to be held accountable!!! Fighting for our rights against the government is usually a lost cause but I personally will NEVER give up the fight for my rights! Email your governors! Let them know what a travesty the whole opioid epidemic really is. Bombard them daily with emails filled with real statistics and real information on the misrepresented and cruel DEA guidelines!!! God bless all of my chronic pain brothers and sisters. Keep on fighting

C.j.

Please stop comparing people in real need for pain medication with those using these drugs for recreational use….there is no similarity between these two types of people.Yet time after time, stories of innocent people are being degraded an humiliated as being drug addicts …its not only hard enough being in pain,yet fighting the stigma as being a drug addict on top of that…It has to change…THERE IS A DIFFERENCE,! C.J.

The worst contributor to the fake “opioid crisis” are people that know “of” the REAL cause of drug abuse that is presented on http://www.doctorsofcourage.org, but do nothing to spread the knowledge. People who don’t have that knowledge can’t be blamed for thinking what they think.

Diane P Succio

I don’t know what Pharmacy even filled the prescription. My Pharmacist questioned my new prescription when my Doctor increased it from 3 to 4 a day. He called and verified it.🤔🤔🤔🤔

Deborah M Babcock

How much more pain are we going to endure before we can get a little help from the only medicine that has given any kind of relief. Why are we,pain patients being punished for others actions. ? Wheather its a nurse over prescribing,a dr writing too many scripts,a drug addict overdosing,a dru dealer selling and so on. Were the only ones whom have obeyed the laws,who have taken our medicine as prescribed but were the ONLY ones still in pain every day of our lives !! Why is it that they can hand out anti depressents like its candy but cant help with pain. IM NOT DEPRESSED,IM IN PAIN…!! How much longer ? Or how much longer can i stay in a constant state of pain would be a better question .. how can they even justify throwing everyone in the same crap bucket ? Im not a junkie nor have i ever been one ! I dont abuse anything ! But yet thrown in the same bucket as those very kind that do abuse drugs. We pain patients are the only ones not being taken care of…why ???!??? Is it money,,do drs get bonuses for letting people suffer !? PEOPLE ! Were human beings with a right to have our pain controlled by what works best thats on the shelves and available to humans !! What about our rights ? What about the Dr oaths ? An animal can go to the vet and be treated more humanely than we the people !! Im an animal lover but there is a line being crossed and these things arent OK..

Brenda

People like this are the ones that ruin it for the ones that truly need pain management.

Maureen M.

Shame on them. This also adds to the fear given to our Pain Specialists and therefore in turn they ‘underwrite’ our scripts and we are the ones who suffer with poor treatment and increased pain issues.
As a Nurse myself (disabled since 2005 due to my spine injury) I cannot believe the board allowed that Tennessee Nurse to continue to work let alone write Prescriptions?!!!! What kind of punishment is that?! Shame on that board also.
When I was practicing Nursing I was always aware of the possibility of losing my license if ever I did anything wrong. I cannot believe that Nurse even took the chance! Why would she?!
Incredible stories and I am sure there are tons more like it out there.

BJ Thomas

Exactly why is the entire healthcare, pain patient , doctors, states , whole US , paying the price for people like this that abuse patients and the system. There’s always going to be bad people in the world. People that go down the wrong path . Why does the entire nation suffer for their choices. That’s like saying if 1 person commits a murder we are all to be punished . 1 person drove drunk so we all go to Jail . C’mon WAKE UP! My god put an end to this catastrophic mistake. Get the Government OUT and god help us put the Doctors back in control of treating patients. Reverse what is salvageable , you can’t bring back the people that have died and or committed suicide because of these bull —- guidelines and policies but you can darn sure help the future abd put and end to anymore . Their deaths ate on your hands all the people suffering in pain us on you. Someone has to be held accounable , the Predident of the US needs to stand up and take charge , reverse the damage and get us back to where healthcare , Doctors and patients used to be. How can you PRESIDENT TRUMP stand by and let them destroy the US ? It was Genocide from the start . Is this what you want to go down in the legacy of your Presidential term . ?

Joseph Lane

“perhaps a more informed and balanced approach could be realized”, I do not believe so. The idea behind refusing opioids to CCP’s is to feed the re-hab industry. The media has gone along with it because sensationalized news sells and most citizens of the world have been taught to not question authority. Follow the money.

Sherrie

These stories sickin me how could anyone steal pain meds that were suppose to go to people in real pain i worked in nursing homes for years i cannot begin to imagine doing something so cruel to another human being ,i myself have been impacted by these stories and many others im a chronic pain person myself ,this effects us all whether we are the one in pain or not someone close to us is ,there has got to be stricter laws when these people are caught because they will continue doing it ,nursing licenses need to be revoked these people are in places of trust ,they are cruel ,sick monsters

Dragonfly

I had my pain meds taken 18 months ago and my life is horrible. Im in pain. Have ehlers danlos syndrome. Ribs popping out place. Cant sleep. WTH. What are we suppose to do. Ive tried accupunture, physical therapy, chiropractor. Prayer prayer. Prayer. Ended up in ER last night cause the chiropractor damaged a rib
Dr said i need be on pain management. Somebody tell me where?

Marie Gafney

This hysteria about the opioid crisis is leaving chronic pain patients with no other options that work. Their medication is yanked and they end up with no quality of life. They are forced to sit in a chair or lie in bed all day. It is no wonder that many commit suicide. The doctors and pharmacists are running scared. The insurance companies and government are telling doctors how to practice medicine. This has to be resolved FAST.