Just this past may, Creekside Village Nursing Home in Mishawaka, made a police report claiming someone had stolen liquid morphine and replaced it with cough syrup. In April, the Attorney General's office filed a complaint against the nursing license of a former St. Joseph Hospital employee accused of stealing pain medications. Those are just two recent examples of what people in the medical profession call "diversion," or the theft of prescription drugs.
In a review of just 90 days of complaints filed against nurse licenses across the state, ABC57 found 39 of 66 involved the abuse or theft of medications. That's nearly 60 percent of all of the cases.
It's such a problem, the state has a contract with a company aimed at treating addictions of nurses, doctors and pharmacists.
“We currently have 417 in active monitoring.” Tracy Traut, a Clinical Case Manager with Indiana Professionals Recovery Program, said. “Indiana professionals recovery program is what we refer to as an alternative to discipline program for medical professionals in the state of Indiana.”
IPRP took over the state contract less than a year ago. In the 11 months it's been working with the state, they've dealt with nearly 650 medical professionals, mainly Nurses. Traut says it's a national problem.
“3 to 6 percent of nurses currently engaged in active practice, have an alcohol or drug addiction problem.” She said.
IPRP serves essentially as a middleman. If a nurse has been accused of stealing drugs, fails a drug test or has a DUI, the state's licensing board will have the company do an assessment, then recommend treatment. Traut and her team then monitor their treatment, pass info along to the state and, many times, the employer.
“You have an accountability system.” Traut explained.
That accountability system is essential for nurses who are allowed to go back to work on a probationary license, Traut says. Many times those nurses will have restrictions on handling narcotics and could be monitored by Traut's team for up to 5 years.