Two nurses at Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center in Duval County, Florida were arrested for allegedly using their position at the hospital to acquire prescription drugs to be sold illegally on the street, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. One of the nurses was charged with multiple counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and one count of trafficking hydromorphine. The other nurse was charged with two counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances.
Apparently, Shands-Jacksonville, like other hospitals has a mechanism in place whereby the medical staff must provide a thumbprint before he or she dispenses prescription drugs. Shands-Jacksonville monitors the frequency with which the medical staff acquires those drugs. according to the JSO arrest report, one of the nurses was dispensing 30% more of the drugs than the average nurse.
Of course, dispensing certain prescription drugs raises more suspicion than others. Certain drugs like Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet and Morphine are more commonly obtained illegally as they have become more popular among drug users, particularly kids, and can be highly addictive. According to a report from The Council of State Governments, over 6 million people aged 12 and older used prescription drugs illegally as of 2002. A more recent report cited by the American Medical News indicated that as of 2005, nearly 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs. Common ways for the prescription drugs to be obtained were: going to different doctors for multiple prescriptions (which got Rush Limbaugh into trouble), ordering drugs through internet pharmacies, theft, forging prescriptions and medical professional illegally prescribing the drugs.
In order to help the medical industry keep track of these prescription drugs and who is getting them, Congress enacted the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act in 2005 which authorizes a monitoring system, but the program has not been properly funded by the government.