Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Drugs Are Bad, M'kay?



Today's message is prefaced by age old wisdom: "DRUGS ARE BAD" (except when they are legal and are prescribed to you...in which case...drugs are ok).

 I like to think that the majority of adults that I come into contact with on a daily basis understand that taking drugs that are not legally prescribed to you is not only irresponsible, but a direct violation of moral conduct. Due to this fact, I like to think that -- based on these two standards alone -- most adults would be able to uphold this standard.

However, it is quite clear that what I like to think (in my idyllic fantasy land...) is not always what is reality. Because what I *also* like to think is that my medication, kept at the medication office of the assisted living apartment complex where I live, would be safe. That no one would steal pain medication from me.

Apparently this is too much to ask.

This is what I want to go over: if you have been wronged -- ethically, morally, and/or legally -- do not allow anyone to keep you from reporting problems to proper authorities.

Monday morning: I ask for a PRN (taken only as requested) medication for pain management. The medication tech goes to pull it from the drawer, only to find that it had gone missing. She checked through my neighbors tabs to make sure it wasn't displaced. She then checked the bottom drawer, on the off chance that someone was a bit scatterbrained and had, for some odd reason, placed it there.

There were ten remaining doses...and that medication was nowhere to be found.

This is the second time my pain medication has been stolen from the facility from which I live by personnel that have access.

I would LOVE to just have a dull moment. I hope one day to have the luxury to say "I'm bored".

This being a  controlled substance, as soon as the house manager came in she was informed by the staff person that this medication was found the medication to be "missing" (we still were calling it "missing", just in case it...magically relocated to somewhere no one would check, I guess?).

After two hours of staff searching, my own physical discomfort mounting, I confronted the manager and asked her to inform her superiors. Which she did. And with her superiors here, they all continued to look high and low. Thankfully the pharmacy was able to give a refill, since it was past time that I could do so.

I suppose management thought I would be content with that...and I guess they keep forgetting that I am a patient advocate. Theft is a crime. Negligence is a crime.

I reported to appropriate authorities.

Before I did this, I was told by management all of the wonderful reasons why I should just "allow [them] to handle this situation quietly". That the medication was refilled. That "[they] would get to the bottom of this".

I told them that the only surefire way to avoid these types of criminal acts was to have a supervisor in office on the weekend. The weekend is always when things go south here.

I was met with silence.

So I met with my phone, and Monday placed a call to where it needed to go. The resolution is now all of my personal medications (because I take multiple schedule II-schedule III narcotics) are now in a separate lock box, and all medication, including items that are not controlled substances) are to be counted at the end of every shift.

It's a step in the right direction.

I want to emphasize, however, that this proactive step (before the ultimately fire the person who was responsible) would not have taken place if I'd kept quiet like I was encouraged to. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was report another adverse event brought on by this facility ( the last one being a felony charge of attempt to store IV drugs without proper license: they'd claimed need to keep my TPN/supplies with them. That was sorted out in a few days with -- again -- report to who needed to be notified). I did not want to cause problems, and the manager was alluding to the fact that my "complicating" the situation would be devastating. I know full well that if this place is shut down, eight other consumers who are doing well for the most part (we all have differing needs here) would be homeless.

I don't want that on my plate.

I don't want to be responsible for multiple people losing their jobs.

Oh but wait...I'm not the one who stole my narcotic drug. I am not the person who hired a drug addicted individual to be around scheduled substances. I am not the one who had no system of credibility.

Despite what was implied, this is not my fault.

We all need to deeply appreciate our care team. But it crosses the line if you are ever, ever asked to flat out lie or otherwise be silent when you know for a fact that doing so isn't fair to you.

Since it is difficult at times to know exactly what is and is not ok in the eyes of the law regarding care facilities, hospitals, and/or conduct of nurses, doctors, technicians, and other staff, this is why I point out the mishaps that go one in my own care. It's why my post "When To Fire Your Doctor" is one of my most read posts.

You need to know your rights, and you need to exercise them.

No shame.

For more information on consumer rights:

HIPAA law in full

HIPAA law summary

Empowered Patient Coalition: filing a greivance

Americans With Disabilities Act do gov page

Americans With Disabilities Act: More Detail

Department of Health and Senior Services -- Missouri

Office of Diversion Control: Reporting Stolen Narcotic Drugs *PLEASE CLICK IN EVENT OF STOLEN CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE*

*DISCLAIMER* I AM NOT A GOVERNMENT OR HEALTH CARE OFFICIAL. PLEASE DO NOT E-MAIL ME IN THE EVENT OF REPORTING LOST OR STOLEN MEDICATION. CONTACT THE PROPER AUTHORITIES AT ONCE. I AM NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM QUALIFIED TO GIVE ANY MEDICAL ADVISE. THIS BLOG IS BASED SOLELY ON PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. IN THE EVENT OF LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY CALL 911 OR PROCEED TO NEAREST LOCAL EMERGENCY ROOM. 

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