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Adherence to policies and procedures is of utmost importance in healthcare settings, especially when it comes to the proper disposal of unused medications. Nurses play a critical role in ensuring the safe and appropriate handling of medications to protect patient well-being and maintain the integrity of medical practices. However, there are instances when lapses in compliance with these protocols can raise concerns about patient safety and the nurse’s conduct. When confronted with allegations related to deviations from established protocols, seeking the assistance of a nurse attorney can be instrumental in navigating the legal complexities, safeguarding the RN’s rights, and addressing the situation in a fair and equitable manner.

Incident Scenario: Failure to Follow Procedures of Medication Wastage

On or about May 13, 2020, while employed as an RN at a medical facility in Harlingen, Texas, the RN failed to follow the facility’s policy and procedure regarding wastage of unused portions of medications in that half-used vials of a chronic pain medication and unopened vials of lidocaine were found in her personal locker. RN’s conduct left medications unaccounted for, was likely to deceive the hospital pharmacy and placed the pharmacy in violation of Chapter 481 (Controlled Substances Act) of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The RN responded to the allegations without the help of a nurse defense attorney and stated she discovered the chronic pain medication in her pocket that she’d forgotten to waste. RN was scheduled to start back on her regular schedule the following week, and since everyone had left, she thought she’d just lock it in her locker until Wednesday when the nurse came in. According to the RN, the following Tuesday, while in the locker room, the medicine fell out when she was putting her things in the locker.  She was called in and was walked to the locker and that’s when she noticed the other medicine bottles and the local. She was so embarrassed and ashamed, not to mention mortified at how it must’ve looked, and told them she had simply forgotten to waste the meds. RN added it was a simple inexcusable “out of sight, out of mind” situation and that although it was irresponsible. it wasn’t intentional at all.

The above actions constitute grounds for disciplinary action in accordance with Section 301.452(b)(10)&(13) Texas Occupations Code and is a violation of 22 TEX ADMIN. CODE §217.11(1)(A)&(1)(B) and 22 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §217.12 (1)(A),(1)(B), (4),(10)(C)&(11)(B).

A case was ultimately filed against her before the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). The said allegation was fatal to the RN’s capability to perform the essential functions and duties. It’s unfortunate that the nurse defense attorney who handled her case was not able to properly defend her interests and rights before the Board. The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) found her guilty of the offense alleged in the complaint and decided to place her RN license under disciplinary action.

In case you ever find yourself in a situation like this, it is advisable to seek the help of an experienced nurse attorney immediately before it’s too late. Texas Nurse Attorney Yong J. An is one of those dedicated nurse attorneys who helped represent more than 600 nurse cases for the past 17 years. You may contact him 24/7 at (832) 428-5679 for more information or if you want to schedule a private consultation.