The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is investigating allegations nurses at a Texas hospital were abusing fentanyl. The investigation comes shortly after two nurses at UT Southwestern died from overdose related injuries while in the hospital.
Why would the DEA get involved?
The feds require close monitoring of opioids and other controlled substances. The DEA requires medical facilities to report to any missing medications. A failure to do so can result in serious financial penalties.
What is the purpose of this investigation?
The federal investigation appears to focus on the facility’s ability to track its medication. The initial inspection led the facility to file 31 reports of missing drugs. The facility has also made several additional reports in recent months.
What are the dangers of these types of allegations against nurses?
Nurses must complete multiple hours of training, take countless tests and apply years of experience to excel within their profession. The threat of criminal charges for misusing these medications can end a nurse’s career.
In addition to the concern of criminal penalties, nurses may also need to navigate an investigation from their local nursing board. A nursing board in each state monitors the profession. In Texas, the Texas Board of Nursing can require nurses to submit to an evaluation if there is “probable cause” to believe the nurse suffers from chemical dependency or abuse of drugs that impacts their ability to practice nursing safely. This could lead to evidence to support disciplinary actions and the potential revocation of a nurse’s license.
Discrepancies can occur for many reasons, such as poor reporting protocol within the medical facility. Those who find themselves the subject of an investigation by the Board or facing criminal charges should act to protect their interests. An attorney can review the purpose of the investigation and discuss strategies to better ensure your license is protected.