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Can we report someone stealing medication?

16 answers | Last updated: Jun 08, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

My step-mom was put on hospice care eight months ago for dementia. The nurse that comes to her house to care for her is stealing pain medication every time she comes. My step-mom does not even need them but the nurse keeps ordering and stealing. She has even stopped by on her days off to "count the pills". I told my dad that he needs to call her company but he is afraid of telling on her. What should we do?


Caring.com User - Dan Tobin, M.D.
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Dan Tobin, M.D. is the CEO of Care Support of America, a national service providing telephonic and local nurse counsel to adult children...
24% helpful
Dan Tobin, M.D. answered...


If you know that someone is stealing pain medication then it is important to do something to change the situation. Your Dad can ask for another nurse to visit his home if he does not want to directly address the issue. He may think of another approach if you speak with him. It is most important to be sure that your Stepmother is getting the right amount of medication and not missing her pain medication treatments.

All the best

Dan Tobin


More Answers
31% helpful
Tea McAlpin answered...

I am a Hospice CNA and see this all the time. If not the nurse then a caregiver who swears it is the nurse or a family member.It never turns out good. Call the agency and ask that another nurse take the case.You don't have to say why and if they insist tell them you will call in another agency to care for your step-mother if they don't honor your wishes. There are many Hospice agencies out there and all will welcome your family member. Having someone who steals the drugs will also lie about taking them and much much more. Just to give you an example, I found one of our nurses asleep at a stop sign with her foot on the brake, car still running. She had called the office about 20 minutes earlier stating she was headed to another patients house and would arrive in 5 minutes.The office sent me to see if I could find her because I was in the area. She didn't answer her phone because she was high on Ativan stolen from her last patient. Would you want your family member cared for by someone so wacked out on stolen anxiety meds, they fall asleep at a stop sign? Please tell someone or request a new nurse.


37% helpful
jcjdavis answered...

I have been a CNA for 20 years now, and I have seen my share of misuse of patient's medications by nurses. I have worked in hospitals, and in home health & hospice. One thing family members need to be aware of is that just because a nurse has a license does not mean that they are immune to stealing patient's medications. I've seen nurses steal for themselves, and even steal for someone else like their spouse. If the family does not report the problem then the problem does not get fixed. And, not ordering any more pain medicines for your Stepmother is not the answer. You claim she does not take them. But like Dr. Tolbin said in a previous answer, "It is most important to be sure that your Stepmother is getting the right amount of medication and not missing her pain medication treatments" It has been my experience that alot of older patients especially those with dementia or Alzheimer issues do not always ask for pain medicines even if they need it. Doctor's prescribe these medicines knowing that they should be taken as prescribed. If your Stepmother has chronic pain issues, she should be given these medicines whether or not she ask for them. Maybe what you can do is tell the nurse you as a family member has decided to take over the counting, administering, etc. yourself. You as the family have every right to do so without question. It is your right. But it does sound like your Stepmother needs these medicines for whatever reason her doctor feels she needs them, and it sounds like she is not getting them at all. If she were to get them as prescribed you might notice a great improvement in her quality of life. Improvements in her movements, and improvements in her mood. We all tend to be in a better mood when we do not have some nagging pain issues. And, always remember just like the other letter says, you can always call the agency and tell them you are requesting a different nurse. You can always tell them the truth in what you are suspecting or you can just say its personal reasons. You are the family, you have many rights as the family. Your Stepmother relies on her family to make sure she is getting the best care.


33% helpful
Truth told... answered...

I have a zero tolerance for a thieving nurse/cna. If someone is stealing, reagardless of supplies or meds, that person needs to be replaced. Trying to talk to them or any other staff does not work, because everyone denies it, or denies knowing about it. A few may share a concern about missing supplies or meds, but for the most part, that is far and few between, because the other nurses do not want to "snitch". (from my experience).

Any agency who does not replace a nurse via request and tries to impose unwanted staff on you is simply all about the money. Bottom line. And anyone who has that mindset, doesn't really care at all about the person you care about.

If you know who it is, replace that person ASAP. Been there. Done that.


25% helpful
willow222 answered...

Count the pills yourself, set up a video camera, and count them again after the suspected thief leaves. Voila, you have evidence. Call the cops, end of story. Anyone desperate enough to steal pain medicine from a client that is dependant on them needs to be reported.


25% helpful
lori dean roseti answered...

I am a little in shock that the doctor who answered first said well if you dont want to report her get another nurse Hmmmmm. Id have that woman in jail so fast her head would spin.............also to do that to someone who is near death and sometimes cant express if there in pain or not is just horrible,and rember to anyone who would do such a thing god is watching and i wouldnt want ton see what he has in store for you


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An anonymous caregiver answered...

9 out of 10 people do not need hospice. dont get me wrong Hospice is great for those actively dying. the reason alot of people are put on hospice is because now family physicians are scared to order anything for afraid of over medicating. Hospice is ALL about money. i work fro a long term care faciltiy and these laisons as they call themselves offer you drinks, food, door prizes all while hinting "they need a patient" you scratch my back and ill scratch your kinda of thing no matter if the residents are fine According to them it is there benfit to be on hospice.


33% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

I work for a nonprofit hospice, its not all as bad as you seem to be illustrating but then again i believe its people not money that matter. Apology if you had a bad hospice experience.


33% helpful
Nursedarlin answered...

As a nurse in recovery from addiction, I feel I should speak to this issue. Addiction is as common in nurses as it is in the general population. These nurses can be rehabilitated, but while in active addiction, they are a danger to public safety. Gathering evidence is a good idea. I suggest telling the nurse you know what is going on and want them to get help. Tell her you are contacting law enforcement, and the state nursing board and are prepared to report her. Sometimes we are ready to get help and need a reality check. She will probably deny it at first, and then may admit it. I don't know what state you're in, but in California, an RN may self-report to the diversion program. This allows them to get help, be removed from practicing for a couple years, and not suffer the legal consequences (ie jail/ arrest). Keep in mind she is a human being who is sick and needs help. Addiction doesn't discriminate and is an equal opportunity destroyer. You can visit the state's board of nursing website for information on reporting an impaired nurse. Meanwhile you MUST inform the employer, law enforcement, or someone at the board.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

If you do not report the theft of prescription medication to the police, what justice are you serving to society or to the thief? How about the next person they steal from? How about driving high on your drugs and killing someone...maybe one of your family members?


tpars answered...

I can not believe how many people think it is ok just to replace her. First of all you make a police report stealing scheduled drugs is a felony, second of all you report this nurse to the state licensing agency and her employer. This nurse is no better than a street junkie.


reallymad1 answered...

The reason I researched this question is likely obvious, I have experienced the situation at an Assisted Living facility where my mother lives. They care giver who administer the meds, on repeated occasions, has omitted my mother's Oxycodone from her med regime. When my mother questioned her, she acted as if my mother was just a forgetful old lady, telling her "no you have taken it already". My mother, although physically hurting, is mentally sharp. She has kept a journal of the times, which was frequent. I approached the Administrator, who questioned the caregiver, who denied it. Their position, we asked her, she says she is not doing it, so there's your answer. Not sure what I am going to do now...as the Administrator considers it a closed issue, and my mother is just old and forgetful. Frankly...it is BS.


Dr. JG answered...

Medications are very dangerous if not used safely. Licensed professionals are to be respected, but how can they be respected if they get away with this/ This should be reported to the police and DEA. These medications are being diverted and the person is very sick with with substance abuse and will end up hurting somebody if not themselves. Not reporting is a form of enabling. If you enable then you are part of the problem. Substance abusers depend on enablers. There is a very high mortality rate in substance abuse. If you report this person you maybe saving their life or somebody else's life. Think about it and do the right thing. Doing the right thing is usually not the easy path, but its the right path.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

As a retired caregiver, I am concerned about the safety and well being of seniors. As I read, I see nothing about drug testing. I think if on going drug testing was made a requirement to employment of caregivers, we would see less drug theft, and better quality care over all. I believe most theft is done by addicted caregivers.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

Yes you can REPORT THEM. the nurse that is providing care for your mom, you can report the situation to the company that is providing hospice care for her, and request a new nurse, if the problem stops then you can report her to the state board of nursing ( of the state your in) if it continues then it may be someone that you are not expecting to be do it.... but by law if you have doubts then you can report the person, they can loose their lic to practice to say the least. and worse case go to jail....