Drug-abusing colleague


Levels of problem

·         Direct evidence

·         High suspicion

·         Some suspicion


If direct evidence:


·      Make sure patient ok

·      Make sure colleague ok

·      Relieve colleague of clinical duties


·      High risk of suicide for suicide

·      Do not leave him/her alone

·      Arrange psych admission

·      Notify head of department


·      Rehabilitation

·      Assess suitability of RTW

·      RTW programme with regular drug testing


If major signs:


·      Injection marks

·      Paraphernalia

·      Taking out large amounts of drug

·      Poor record keeping

·      Drug book inconsistencies

·      Patients in severe pain in PACU

·      Change in behaviour

·      Withdrawal signs


·      Notify senior colleague


If minor signs:


·      Strange behaviour at work

·      Strange behaviour at home


·      Patients could be at risk

·      Anaesthetist could be at risk

·      Difficulty maintaining confidentiality

·      Potential for damage to fabric of department


·      Notify senior colleague

·      Written statement better than verbal statement


·      Retrospective and/or prospective audit of drug prescription

·      Discrete observation by trusted senior anaesthetist or trusted senior nurse

·      Findings must be documented.

·      Process may take some time

If not upheld

·      Keep a record of the investigation

·      Do not attempt intervention if evidence is insufficient


Intervention meeting:


·      Notify the anaesthetist early in the day when he/she is on duty

·      Allow anaesthetist to appoint an advocate

·      Anaesthetist must be accompanied at all times because of suicide risk


·      Explain reason for meeting

·      State evidence

·      Allow response

·      Explain what happens now


·      Arrange admission to detoxification unit

·      Anaesthetist must be accompanied at all times because of suicide risk