I recently represented a registered nurse who was accused of altering a prescription. The nurse was employed at a local hospital in the outpatient surgery unit. The patient was given a prescription by a doctor for morphine 10mg. The pharmacist told the patient that the pill only came in 15mg. tablets. The patient conveyed this information to the nurse. The nurse contacted the doctor who instructed the nurse to write a new prescription for morphine15mg tablets and sign the doctor’s name to the prescription. The nurse made a note on the original prescription, writing on it “15”. Her intention was to contact her supervisor so that the doctor could write a new prescription.
When the nurse relayed this information to the supervisor, the supervisor saw that the number 15 was written on the prescription and reported the nurse to administration for altering a prescription. The hospital administration filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Nursing.
After our own investigation, we met with the investigator from the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation and presented evidence that convinced him that the nurse had no intention of giving the altered prescription back to the patient.
The Board of Nursing dismissed the matter without filing any formal charges.
It is important to remember if you are confronted on the job about some type of diversion or alteration of a prescription or alteration of patient’s records, you should contact us before speaking to a supervisor. In many situations once a nurse is accused, he/she may be nervous and unsure of how to respond to certain questions.
49 Pa. Code Section 21.18 covers “THE STANDARDS OF NURSING CONDUCT”. This section dictates that a nurse shall not falsify or knowingly make incorrect entries’ into the patient’s record or other related documents. A violation of this section could result in a suspension or revocation of a license along with a $10,000 penalty.
Almost on a daily basis, I receive telephone calls from nurses who are accused of some impropriety by a hospital they work at. Many times, these accusations are baseless; however if they are not handled in the proper way, it can result in disciplinary action being initiated against the nurse.
In many cases, we are able to persuade the prosecutor not to file formal charges. This will prevent any marks on your nursing license and will also prevent any entries in the National Practitioner Data Bank.