Nitrous Oxide, medically used for sedation but often misused as a “laughing gas” intoxicant, will become a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on 8 November 2023. Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 will be amended to allow for legitimate use.
Staff illegally self-administering CDs
A new international nurse at an Acute Trust was experiencing some pain whilst on shift and decided to self-administer some Oramorph. On investigation, it was found that this was acceptable in their originating country and that the nurse was unaware of the different culture at the Trust. Be mindful that staff from different international backgrounds may be used to differing working practices. This case emphasises the importance of including guidance on the correct processes during induction.
Themes in incidents and concerns
The diversion of medication by healthcare staff for their own personal use continues to be a regular theme. Where staff have been suspended while investigations are ongoing, ensure that staff members involved cannot access their place of work inappropriately by ‘tailgating’ other employees. Ensure that staff members involved do not retain passes and uniforms which may also aid inappropriate access. Early Police involvement in cases of staff diversion should be considered to help ensure appropriate support for the member of staff involved and also to help protect patients and public.
CCTV protecting CDs
Ensure that regular CCTV checks are made to ensure that the system is working and that the date and time stamp is correct. Be aware of how long recordings stay on the system. If footage is being used as evidence of a crime, let the police know timescales for automatic deletions. If possible, download and keep securely any recordings that contain evidence.
What do you need to do?
- Update staff training for Nitrous Oxide and induction processes around CDs
- Raise staff awareness of risks with former employees
- Check CCTV systems date / time stamp, retention times
Source: NHSE Controlled Drug Local Intelligence Network
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