A career in the medical profession requires dedication and a great deal of sacrifice. With or without a worldwide health emergency, diligent and compassionate professionals put their well-being on the line. Many jobs require long hours with few breaks. For some, the stress can be too much to bear.
Workers find ways to minimize what can be overwhelming stress. Unfortunately, a significant number of them turn to narcotics to help them get through their shifts. According to estimates from the federal government, ten percent of healthcare workers suffer from substance abuse.
Their source? The very patients that they care for on a daily basis. Oftentimes, easy access to vast supplies of narcotics is too tempting to resist. Trusted coworkers are exploited as well, turning them into unwanted enablers who are concealing the theft without knowing.
Some are caught and suffer the consequences that include job loss and criminal penalties. More tragic cases result in medical workers are dying from overdoses.
Addiction Impacts Patients’ Health
Yet, nothing can compare to the impact the addictions have on patients. As the dependency grows, caregivers divert more and more opioids for their own use. Far too many under their care are denied sufficient doses, often left to linger in pain during cancer treatments or while recovering from surgery.
Some staff members will go so far to replace the drug with tap water, contaminating the narcotic, and putting the patient at risk of contracting rare bacterial blood infections.
Speculation surrounds a significant problem with medical staff abusing drugs. Numbers are hard to confirm due to a vast majority continuing the bad behavior without being caught. Kit Check is a company that monitors drug inventories in hospitals throughout the United States. They report more than 100,000 instances where high-risk medications seemingly disappeared without explanation.
However “small” the problem is considered, the Journal of Hospital Medicine issued a warning last year that the problem is not going away, regardless of investigations or consequences. In fact, it is accelerating.