A number of publications – USA Today, the News-Leader in Virginia and others – have lately been giving great attention to a serious but often hidden problem in many health care settings: Drug addiction.
A USA Today review indicated on a national scale, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides are abusing or are dependent on prescription drugs in any given year. Nursing home facilities are not immune to this crisis, and patient safety and well-being is placed at risk as a result.
In some cases, health care workers are stealing drugs. In other cases, their impairment leaves them unable to do the job properly. One nurse anesthetist who is now a recovering drug addict said she used drugs for years, often on-the-job and without detection by colleagues. She is not aware of any mistakes, but said, “I certainly would not say I was immune to that.”