What happens after a person is caught stealing drugs?
September 16, 2016 6:55 PM   Subscribe

My co-workers and I work with and have access to many controlled drugs. Recently a co-worker was caught stealing a schedule II injectable drug. This person was caught in the act on surveillance cameras and by another co-worker. They were escorted off our work premises and at some point officially terminated. My co-workers and I want to know what is going to happen to this person, but management will not discuss it. What are the chain of events has this act set in motion?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total)
It would vary by jurisdiction but I imagine there is a strong possibility that the police would be contacted for an investigation and if the person was a member of a professional organisation they would also be contacted so they could imitate their own investigation. If they are charged it will show up on the court docket at some point, which is public informations, and many professional organizations are now trying to be transparent and accountable and publish the results of their investigations on their websites.

Management will not discus this specific case due to privacy, but a good manager would recognise you need closure and should be able to provide some information about possible consequences in general for such actions with the stated understanding they are NOT discussing a specific person.
posted by saucysault at 7:17 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I know someone who did this, under what sounds like very similar circumstances. They were charged with deception to obtain a dangerous drug (a felony charge, which covered the actual taking) and felony drug abuse, which in that state was a catch-all for possession, use, distribution, etc. After the store's records were audited, they were able to prove that she'd been doing it for a while.

She was found guilty on all charges and spent, if I remember right, about 18 months in prison, and then another couple years on parole.
posted by mishafletch at 7:24 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Besides being terminated and criminally charged, she will probably lose any professional license she may have.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 8:50 PM on September 16, 2016

An acquaintance was caught in similar circumstances. They were terminated and lost their professional license. I believe criminal charges were brought, and a plea deal was taken to complete a substance abuse rehabilitation program and probation in lieu of prison time. It was a really terribly sad situation.
posted by goggie at 10:21 PM on September 16, 2016

I have an attorney friend who was himself caught playing with lots of drugs and drinking and playing the fool, and he had to go to this special rehab (both due to his standing as a licensed professional and due to his habit, which was a monster.) He had to do some fancy dancing but he didn't serve any time, I don't think he lost his license to practice but it was held somehow until he proved that he was now sparkly clean and ready to be a good citizen now.

He rebuilt his practice (which had been criminal law) he rebuilt his practice by representing doctors, nurses, dentists, attorneys, anyone who needed licensing to have their job, and had lost it or were in process of losing it due to their playing with drinking and/or drugging games of whatever type. He limited his practice to that for a number of years but now he's taken off, a good number of attorneys working for him, and he's still doing that work but also he's back in the saddle with criminal law, and god only knows what all else. He's making money hand over fist now, ran into him a few weeks ago and he barely has time to catch his breath, hell of a change from where he was when it all came crashing down on him.

Your friend will want to get in touch with an attorney such as my buddy; they will tell them what can or cannot be done. Suggest that they bring money.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:06 AM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

In some jurisdictions, drug addicts caught stealing drugs may be offered an opportunity to seek treatment and regain professional licensure (if applicable) after completion of a program. I know of a local case where a pharmacist did that exact thing.
posted by xyzzy at 5:43 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

If this person is a nurse, the "Nurses' Recovery" section of allnurses.com has discussions/details from others who have been in a situation like this.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:18 AM on September 17, 2016

My wife works as a critical care nurse. A former coworker of hers was caught stealing narcs from pts for her own use. She underwent treatment and returned to work on a different floor with the proviso that she was not allowed to administer narcs. A couple years later she's now working in an area where narcs are practically mandatory so my wife is pretty sure that she's out from under that particular condition.

This woman didn't lose her job or her professional accreditation as an RN. This is in BC, Canada.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:46 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used to work with a girl (RN) who stole Imitrex. Not even a schedule drug. I was the nurse who injected her...after she told me it was HER imitrex. She was fired but we were both reported to the board of nursing. Her for drug theft, me for giving a medicine without an order. She lost her license, I didn't. I just got a proverbial "slap on the wrist" and told to NEVER EVER give a drug to someone without an order (or prescription) that I can see with my own eyes. If it was a nurse, the board of nursing has no tolerance and no sense of humor. (That was North Carolina)

Now, at another job, I witnessed a RN stealing and ingesting schedule II meds intended for a patient. He was also fired and reported to the board. He didn't lose his license but he had to go through rehab and now he can't work anywhere narcotics are given. (This was in Tennessee)
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 8:02 AM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

From the OP:
Located in the US, we are not RNs, and our patients are not humans. My co-workers and I do not have contact with the person who committed the theft. The theft is a huge professional and personal betrayal. We believe it likely that out employer will contact the police, if they have not already.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:35 AM on September 17, 2016

I know that for attorneys there can be periods where one's license to practice is suspended temporarily, either for a particular time period or pending some other action, such as drug treatment. This is likely the same for other licensed professionals, though I don't actually know what it looks like for other professionals. Your former coworker may be able to retain their license in the long term, or get it back if they complete appropriate treatment.

This does not account for the damage to your former coworker's reputation, of course, and what it means for them in terms of future employment.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2016

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