A certified medication aide at a Texas nursing home who had worked at the nursing home since December, 2010 has been charged with stealing medications intended for nursing home patients and giving them to her common-law husband to sell. It is alleged that the woman would document in the nursing home residents’ medical records that the residents were given their prescribed and their over-the-counter medications but that the aide would take the medications home with her. A search of her home reportedly found large quantities of alprazolam, lorazepam, methadone, morphine, methylphenidate, and hydromorphone.
The arrest warrant alleged that between July 29, 2011 and August 26, 2011, an undercover detective and DEA agents purchased 11 oxycodone pills, 188 hydrocodone pills, 10 diazepam pills, 33 morphine pills, 13 methadone pills, and 91 alprazolam pills from the woman’s common-law husband, who has not been charged.
Not only is it a serious crime to steal and sell prescription medications to those who may then suffer serious injuries or death by using the illegal and dangerous drugs, but the nursing home residents who were prescribed but denied their medications may have suffered serious or deadly consequences.
Imagine an elderly nursing home resident who has constant excruciating pain being denied her pain medication, causing her to unnecessarily live with unbearable pain that would have been properly treated and relieved had she just received her medication when she was supposed to have receive it.
Imagine further the nursing home resident’s physician reading his patient’s medical chart and not understanding why the medication he prescribed for his patient was not effective, and therefore ordering an increased dosage that may or may not have been illegally diverted too.
If a state-certified medication aide in Texas was willing to divert medications away from her patients, imagine how many other nursing home staff members throughout the U.S. may have access to both over-the-counter and prescription medications intended for nursing home residents who succumb to the temptation to divert such medications for their own illicit use or to sell them on the street to put cash in their pockets. Perhaps they justify their actions in their own minds by diverting only a few pills on only a few occasions, deceiving themselves into believing that the residents that they take care of won’t really miss their medications and that they need the medications (or the cash that they represent) more than their patients.
In any event, diverting medications from those who need them and those who are intended to benefit from them is illegal and immoral. Those who steal and then either sell or use diverted medications themselves must be discovered quickly, dealt with as soon as they are discovered, and the penalties they suffer must be sufficient to act as a deterrence to others who might otherwise engage in such wrongful conduct.
There may be explanations offered by those who cause additional suffering to nursing home residents by not providing medications as prescribed, but there can never be any justification for causing harm to others under such circumstances.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of medications prescribed but not given in a nursing home, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney (nursing home attorney) to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim (nursing home claim) for you.
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