Nurse Christina Lovern Calloway was sentenced to four years in prison this week after being Federally charged for diversion of narcotics.
The 40-year-old nurse pled guilty to the charges that she took morphine vials intended for patients and aspirated the contents for her own use, then added tap water to the vial to conceal the evidence.
She was charged with tampering with a consumer product.
Ten years ago when a nurse was caught stealing drugs it was reported to the Board of Nursing and investigated. The nurse was rarely even reported to the police and may have received 3-5 years in a state monitoring program for nurses.
The nurse could still work provided she was compliant with her responsibilities of random drug screens, AA meetings, and complete transparency.
But the drug epidemic continued to escalate, as did the number of nurses becoming addicted every day. Drugs are attractive to nurses because nurses have stressful jobs, access to powerful medications and the mentality that they won't become addicted because they can recognize the signs and stop the activity before it gets to the point of no return.
Unfortunately, nurses, just like all addicts realize they're an addict when it's too late. Federal court has now stepped in and is swiftly prosecuting these nurses, especially when the nurse is guilty of actually diverting narcotics that were meant for a patient and the patient doesn't get their medication as a result. Apparently, stealing narcotics is one thing, but if the nurse is stealing from a patient that's another ball game entirely, in their eyes.
I'm of the belief that there has to be a better way to deal with nurses and addicts in all walks of life. Treating this as a crime that needs to be punished is purely ignorant. These nurses know they were wrong but couldn't control themselves because of the disease of addiction.
I think rehabilitation is the way to deal with addicted nurses. The Board of Nursing is very equipt to deal with these nurses and will punish them with the suspension of their license and forced rehabilitation if they ever want to practice again.
If you are a nurse and you are contemplating narcotic diversion, please think twice. Get help! If you're looking for a place to go to discuss your addiction with other nurses please contact Nursesboards.com and apply to join their private group for nurses with addiction and those who are facing disciplinary action by the board.