Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (5)7 Jul 97  PDF Version 

  Quick Summary: Stealing a patient’s medications is grounds to terminate a nurse’s employment.  However, the evidence must be conclusive to justify such action.

   In this case, forty of one-hundred twenty pain pills were reported missing by a retirement community resident from a bottle of pills he kept in his bathroom. The nurse in question had come to the resident’s assistance earlier that day when he fell out of bed and had called two other nurses to assist in getting the resident back in bed. Then the nurse returned by himself after the others had left, to fetch his stethoscope and blood pressure cuff he had left in the resident’s bathroom near the medicine chest. The nurse ended up talking to the resident at length, forgot his equipment, and had to come back again to get it.

   Although the missing meds could not be accounted for, and there were strong grounds to suspect this nurse, the proof was not solid enough to justify his termination, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota ruled. Posch vs. St. Otto’s Home, 651 N.W. 2d 564 (Minn. App., 1997).