Four nurses at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, New York, have been charged with illegally dispensing medication. The most recent nurse to be arrested was a full-time emergency room nurse, while the other three were traveling nurses.
The full-time nurse, who has been suspended, was found to have discrepancies in several controlled substance withdrawal, administration, and wasting medications between December of 2012 and April of 2013. The three traveling nurses were charged with illegally dispensing various medications, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, Dilaudid, Norco, and Tylenol with Codeine, without a physician's order. According to Samaritan Medical Center, all three of those nurses were immediately terminated.
A spokesperson for the Samaritan Medical Center said they discovered all four nurses' violations in their monthly audit of the drug dispensing system. She says they reported their findings to the Bureau of Narcotics and the New York State Police when they discovered the problem. She also reported that the medical center plans to conduct audits more frequently, and make changes to their hiring system. However, she noted that they already do a background check on all nurses, whether traveling or full-time. This includes a drug screening. The nurses were working at this facility on a temporary basis to fill vacancies that resulted from the expansion of Samaritan Medical Center's emergency room over the past few months.
So far, none of the alleged actions of these nurses have led to any lawsuits against the medical center, but when issues like this arise, there is always a possibility that a medical professional's actions could result in misdiagnosis, or injury to patients. Anyone who believes they have received inadequate or harmful treatment at the hands of a physician, nurse, or any medical professional should contact an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases to ensure that their interests are protected.
Source: cnycentral.com, "Fourth Samaritan Medical Center nurse arrested, medical center making changes" Maren Guse, Jun. 07, 2013