Almost all of the nurses sanctioned by the Montana Board of Nursing for alcohol or drug abuse, including nurses who steal drugs from their employers, receive probationary sentences.
Montana revoked only 12 nursing licenses in the five years between October 2004 and March 2010.
Licenses were taken from a nurse who pocketed prescription painkillers instead of giving them to patients, a nurse who was convicted in federal court of running an international anabolic steroid ring, a nurse who obtained his license using a stolen identity, a nurse who was convicted in state court of sexually assaulting a minor and a nurse whose license was revoked in two other states.
But nurses who committed other crimes or exhibited serious lapses in judgment did not lose their licenses, including nurses who:
• Killed a patient by administering the wrong drug in the emergency room.
• Were caught with 22 different narcotic medications stolen from a hospital.
• Came to work high on methamphetamine.
• Fell out of chairs, passed out in bathrooms, could not speak or could not walk at work due to narcotic use.
• Kept a child with a broken arm at camp overnight.
• Were convicted in federal court of possessing child pornography.
• Replaced narcotics in syringes with saline, leaving surgery patients inadequately anesthetized.
• Sold cocaine to feed a gambling addiction.
• Stole patients’ narcotic medications and sold them to friends.
• Sold narcotics stolen from a medical center to patients at the same medical center.
• Were caught injecting stolen narcotics at work.
• Took a cigarette break, leaving a 6-year-old child unsupervised who then fell out of a second-story window.
• Stole almost $160,000 from an employer.