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Theft of prescription meds

Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
A couple of days ago I found out that a friend of a friend is stealing prescription medicine. The guy in question is a medical student who's currently on a hospital placement, and the meds are in the diazepam(valium) range. It sounds like they're his personal use and his other flatmates.

The thing is, should I report this/is it worth reporting to the police? If I do, it will almost certainly result in his life being screwed up, but on the otherhand, if I don't do I really want a doctor who steals medication?

Anarchy Rules! on

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    No point in ruining his career because of a recreational hobby - given the small sums at issue there's no real moral imperative in terms of the NHS. You might say something to your friend who knows him, but no point in snitching.

    Anyone in a placement/residency is abusing some sort of stimulant or depressant, some prescription, some OTC, to cope with the stress and hours. Maybe they buy it from a friend or something instead. The real answer is that you don't want to be treated by a resident/student.

    kaliyama on
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  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    kaliyama wrote: »
    No point in ruining his career because of a recreational hobby - given the small sums at issue there's no real moral imperative in terms of the NHS. You might say something to your friend who knows him, but no point in snitching.

    Anyone in a placement/residency is abusing some sort of stimulant or depressant, some prescription, some OTC, to cope with the stress and hours. Maybe they buy it from a friend or something instead. The real answer is that you don't want to be treated by a resident/student.

    Kaliyama is a fucking idiot.

    What you are looking at, OP, is an impaired physician currently practicing. The AAM and ANA recognize that impaired physicians are a real problem and post a danger to both co-workers by exposing them to increased risk for liability lawsuit as well as the obvious risk to patients. This is why they have anonymous 'whistle blower' protection to medical professionals reporting on one another.

    I suppose what makes you a little more removed is the 'friend of a friend' situation. If it was someone I personally knew I would try to get them help and encourage them to report themselves to their residency director. It will not ruin their life, but rather activate the support systems necessary to get them treatment (psychological or otherwise) and then they will finish their residency.

    That's how the system works.

    So, you could ignore it because it's only a friend of a friend, but take it from someone who works in hospitals with physicians daily and listen - this is only the first step in what inevitably becomes a spiral of more and more inappropriate behavior.

    MegaMan001 on
    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • jedikuonjijedikuonji Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    My mom's a nurse. At one point in her life she was caught stealing medication. It cost her a good job and her licence was suspended for several years. She had to jump through some hoops and pay some fines, but in the end she got her licence back and has been a practicing nurse with a spotless record for over a decade now. While anecdotal, it is possible to be in trouble over this issue and not have your life destroyed.

    This kid needs a serious wake up call. You need to report this.

    jedikuonji on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Even if reporting the guy were to ruin his career/life, you wont have ruined it - he ruined it himself when he started stealing prescription meds.

    MushroomStick on
  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I agree that you should report him.

    My only recommendation is that you prepare yourself for the possible consequences of reporting and, with those in mind, report him in a manner that does the least amount of damage to you.

    I don't know if this means trying to leave an anonymous tip, or if it means going to the hospital instead of the police (or vice versa). All I can say is that you should take the necessary steps to make sure you do the right thing in the right way and minimize backlash.

    And of course, don't tell your friends what you did. If none of them have reported the guy, then odds are good that they'll sympathize with him when the shit hits the fan. Even if they do see your side, things will be awkward, and that alone could strain or hurt a few relationships.

    Robos A Go Go on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    And of course, don't tell your friends what you did. If none of them have reported the guy, then odds are good that they'll sympathize with him when the shit hits the fan. Even if they do see your side, things will be awkward, and that alone could strain or hurt a few relationships.

    Either be straight up about it or let it go. Don't secretly rat on the guy and carry on with your "friends" like nothing happened.

    Talk to the guy.

    Deebaser on
  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »
    And of course, don't tell your friends what you did. If none of them have reported the guy, then odds are good that they'll sympathize with him when the shit hits the fan. Even if they do see your side, things will be awkward, and that alone could strain or hurt a few relationships.

    Either be straight up about it or let it go. Don't secretly rat on the guy and carry on with your "friends" like nothing happened.

    Talk to the guy.

    What responsibility does he have to a friend of a friend, and why does this responsibility supersede the moral obligation to report him?

    Furthermore, why do you think the OP is in a position to change the friend of a friend's behavior? Even if the thief is receptive, is the OP then responsible for keeping an eye on the thief to make sure he isn't still stealing and abusing prescription meds?

    And why should the OP let this affect his relationship with his friends, if that can be avoided? Assuming the thief isn't an intimate relation of one of the OP's friends, I don't see why he should be required to reveal his actions and accept backlash.

    Robos A Go Go on
  • Aoi TsukiAoi Tsuki Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Turn his ass in.

    Aoi Tsuki on
  • exisexis Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Turn him in. You don't need to tell anybody about if if you don't want to. Talk to his employer directly, tell them what you know, and leave it at that.

    You gain nothing from telling your mutual friends, or him, that you were the one that did it. Even if they don't approve, it puts them in an awkward position, especially those that informed you in the first place.

    Sooner or later, he will be caught, and it's entirely possible that the consequences in future may be worse for him if his habit evolves. More importantly, every day that he's at work right now he is putting the health and safety of his patients at risk.

    exis on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »
    And of course, don't tell your friends what you did. If none of them have reported the guy, then odds are good that they'll sympathize with him when the shit hits the fan. Even if they do see your side, things will be awkward, and that alone could strain or hurt a few relationships.

    Either be straight up about it or let it go. Don't secretly rat on the guy and carry on with your "friends" like nothing happened.

    Talk to the guy.

    What responsibility does he have to a friend of a friend, and why does this responsibility supersede the moral obligation to report him?

    Furthermore, why do you think the OP is in a position to change the friend of a friend's behavior? Even if the thief is receptive, is the OP then responsible for keeping an eye on the thief to make sure he isn't still stealing and abusing prescription meds?

    And why should the OP let this affect his relationship with his friends, if that can be avoided? Assuming the thief isn't an intimate relation of one of the OP's friends, I don't see why he should be required to reveal his actions and accept backlash.

    It's a question of integrity. If you aren't willing to own something like that, you shouldn't do it. If your "friends" aren't willing to do anything about something you feel this strongly about and wouldn't back your play, you shouldn't give a fuck what they think.

    What's the point in being a weasel to maintain a social circle that doesn't share your values?

    Deebaser on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »
    Deebaser wrote: »
    And of course, don't tell your friends what you did. If none of them have reported the guy, then odds are good that they'll sympathize with him when the shit hits the fan. Even if they do see your side, things will be awkward, and that alone could strain or hurt a few relationships.

    Either be straight up about it or let it go. Don't secretly rat on the guy and carry on with your "friends" like nothing happened.

    Talk to the guy.

    What responsibility does he have to a friend of a friend, and why does this responsibility supersede the moral obligation to report him?

    Furthermore, why do you think the OP is in a position to change the friend of a friend's behavior? Even if the thief is receptive, is the OP then responsible for keeping an eye on the thief to make sure he isn't still stealing and abusing prescription meds?

    And why should the OP let this affect his relationship with his friends, if that can be avoided? Assuming the thief isn't an intimate relation of one of the OP's friends, I don't see why he should be required to reveal his actions and accept backlash.

    It's a question of integrity. If you aren't willing to own something like that, you shouldn't do it. If your "friends" aren't willing to do anything about something you feel this strongly about and wouldn't back your play, you shouldn't give a fuck what they think.

    What's the point in being a weasel to maintain a social circle that doesn't share your values?

    So say a friend of a friend happens to be a drug dealer and I tip the cops off anonymously. Does that make me in the wrong because I didn't man up and confront the guy to his face?

    Maybe I'm way off base here, but if the guy really is stealing prescription meds from work and passing them out to his buddies, I'd think that the term "drug dealer" would be a reasonably accurate description of the guy.

    MushroomStick on
  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    So, there's actually another option beyond just calling the police.

    In Texas, there's something called the Professional Recovery Network. It's a program for pharmacists, medical doctors, and other health professionals as well as students of those professions. Essentially, it's for docs who are in trouble with alcohol, prescription meds, depression -- or whatever. They are not reported to their state licensing board so long as they submit to treatment. And if they don't, they get reported.

    It's a very good option that you might want to consider. Not sure what state you're in, but there's probably one in yours. They should have an easily-googlable hotline number.

    Melkster on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I would just call the hospital, say I wanted to stay anonymous, and clue them into what's going on so they could investigate it themselves.

    MushroomStick on
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »
    It's a question of integrity. If you aren't willing to own something like that, you shouldn't do it. If your "friends" aren't willing to do anything about something you feel this strongly about and wouldn't back your play, you shouldn't give a fuck what they think.

    What's the point in being a weasel to maintain a social circle that doesn't share your values?

    A) there is nothing "weasely" about reporting someone for doing something that could put lives in jeopardy. As noted above, there's a reason hospitals want to know about staff abusing medication; it puts them at enhanced legal liability, and puts patients in greater potential risk than if their caregivers weren't abusing drugs of one kind or another.

    B) there is a huge difference between accepting a bit of two-facedness to keep other friendships intact and announcing up front your intentions to all who will listen (hyperbole yay!). While one would hope that other friends would be understanding, the potential repercussions of taking action could have a massive effect on the OP, who unlike the "friend of a friend", is not personally acting in a manner that could be legally actionable. The other friends tangental to the matter might not see it that way, or might side with that friend anyway or for misguided reasons. While typically more aimed at protecting a person's job, I'd say that the potential for drama, bullshit and whatnot vastly skews towards the unacceptable in the OP's position. The guy might get a slap on the wrist and some help (which it sounds like he needs), going "full snitch" could obliterate the OP's social network depending on how big and bad the fallout is. Edit: and yes, while one could say "if they don't see how the OP did the right thing, are they worth having as friends?", but to counter that, there's no way to know for sure how far and wide reaching this could get if it does get bad. Seems like a very poor risk to reward ratio.

    People have found themselves ostracized for far less, and other than some point of pride I don't see why the OP should have to potentially bare that weight on their shoulders while doing the right thing.

    Forar on
    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • No Cars GoNo Cars Go Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm a medical student here in the UK too.

    If you report him, and there's evidence of stealing, his course will 100% be terminated and his chance of studying medicine again in the UK will be near enough nothing.

    Before you go down that route make sure he's still doing this and it wasn't just a one of situation, and find out why he's doing it - recreational use, or is he self-medicating for anxiety/sleeping disorders?

    Were I in your situation I'd look at the kind of person he is. If he's clearly abusing his position then fine - tell his medical school, otherwise send him an anonymous tip that you will report his actions.

    Chances are other medical students will know too and he'll get found out soon enough.

    No Cars Go on
  • RaneadosRaneados police apologist you shouldn't have been there, obviouslyRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    there is absolutely no reason to not call in an anonymous tip

    there is a time for "manning up" and being accountable, etc, and talking to people
    reporting a crime is not it, reporting a serious drug theft and abuse is also not it


    and yes, if you're stealing prescription meds for personal use, you have a serious drug problem

    you're allowed to anonymously report crimes for a reason, do so, please

    Raneados on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2010
    The only thing I'd say is, before you put in a tip, try to be sure. I wouldn't call in on hearsay, but if this is something you're sure about, you probably should. From your post it sounds like he's not just taking the stuff, but distributing it to friends, as well.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • KarlKarl Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    No Cars Go wrote: »
    I'm a medical student here in the UK too.

    If you report him, and there's evidence of stealing, his course will 100% be terminated and his chance of studying medicine again in the UK will be near enough nothing.

    Before you go down that route make sure he's still doing this and it wasn't just a one of situation, and find out why he's doing it - recreational use, or is he self-medicating for anxiety/sleeping disorders?

    Were I in your situation I'd look at the kind of person he is. If he's clearly abusing his position then fine - tell his medical school, otherwise send him an anonymous tip that you will report his actions.

    Chances are other medical students will know too and he'll get found out soon enough.

    I'd go with this. You are going to ruin a man's career if you report him. So make sure you're 100% sure that he's still doing it.

    Now (and this is my opinion), you have two choices:

    If he's taking meds because his course is becoming too much for him then I'd say he needs to be given the chance to quit the drugs and clean himself up. I'm not sure how you can do it, but let him know that if he doesn't clean himself up he will be reported. Being a doctor is massively stressful and though he's stumbled he can still sort himself out.


    However if he's abusing his position to steal pills for purely recreational purposes, you should absolutely report it. He's a liability to the NHS and the general public.
    I (happily) pay National Insurance to maintain the NHS, so people who can't afford a personal healthcare plan are not refused treatment. Not so some cunt can get high.

    Karl on
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I can't tell you the number of seminars and presentations I've been through on this topic.

    Do a google on the institution of where this guy works and I would either make an anonymous phone call to the residency director or e-mail.

    Also, you are under no obligation to confront this guy face to face. If you thought you did, you would consider yourselves better friends. Maybe, more importantly, the reason the NHS accepts anonymous tips is because it's easier and more likely than one resident turning in a buddy.

    The goal here isn't to satisfy anyone's sense of propriety, but to protect patients and try to save this guy from himself.

    For what its worth, even if I found my best buddy in my anesthesia program stealing meds I'd first tell him then report him.

    This isn't 'boys will be boys oh he's just coping with his stress'. 99% of residents don't resort to this kind of behavior. This is an example of addictive behavior that isn't going to just go away. It doesn't matter WHY he's doing it.

    MegaMan001 on
    I am in the business of saving lives.
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