Have You Ever Caught (or suspected) that your Nurse gave you saline instead of your pain medication?

I had to write on this topic! Unfortunately, I have had several experiences where I have caught my nurses trying to "pull a fast one" as though I could not tell the difference! If you have been on pain medication for years like I have you know the difference! I watch my health care providers very carefully because I have come to find that I can't always trust them. They already have it in their minds that Sickle Cell patients aren't really sick and are just "drug seekers" so why wouldn't they try us by giving us saline to see how we would react!

This is one of my experiences. As the nurse enters my room, I could already tell her attitude was not right. She then begin a little idol chatter with me while supposedly giving me pain medication (usually IV demerol or dilaudid and phenergan). A minute after she administered the meds I immediately knew something was not right! She asked me how did I feel (I guess to see my reactions after giving me a placebo)! I told her that I was still in pain and the medication did not help at all. I have been taking these meds for years so I know how they are suppose to feel. She said to me that she could not give me anything else. I decided to give her another chance. I stood by the door and waited for the nurse to come in. I stood right there so I could watch her draw my medication. She came to my bed and covered the syringe as she talked to me so I wouldn't pay attention to what she was doing. I couldn't believe what happened next! She actually pretended to push the medication through my IV! I told her that she did not give me anything because I saw her! She just walked out the room because I'm sure she knew it would be my word against hers. Suspecting that I had been given pure saline the first time and knowing that she did not give me anything the second time I called the charge nurse. I told her that I felt uncomfortable with my nurse and that I did not want her to continue taking care of me. She immediately found me another nurse and the next 3 hours when my meds were due she gave them to me and I finally got the relief I needed.

I have also expereienced nurses only giving me "part" of the pain medication that was prescribed for me. My doctor prescribed 4mgs of dilaudid and 25mg of phenergan every 3 hours. I knew this routine well. The nurses always brought in 2 vials of of dilaudid which were 2mg a piece and 1 vial of phenergan which was 25mg for a total of 3 vials. Most of the nurses would actually bring them to my room and draw them up there. I had been in the hospital for 2 weeks and this was the rountine. One morning a nurse came in and as usual I asked her for my pain medication. I always make it a point to say "I want the 4mg of dilaudid and the 25mg of phenergan". This day was no different. The nurse brought the medication to my bed in a little basket and I noticed there were only 2 vials in there instead of 3. I did not say anything at this point. She gave me the medicine and threw the vials in the trash. When she left I went to the trash can and looked at the vials. It was 1 vial of dilaudid equaling 2mg and 1 vial of phenergan equalling 25mg. I called the nurse and asked her to come to my room. I asked her what did she give me. She stated that she gave me 4mg of dilaudid and the phenergan. I stated to her that I noticed that she only had 2 vials and the nurses normally gave me 3 vials. She stated that the vial of dilaudid she gave me contained 4mg. I then said to her that I had never heard of that before in that hospital and that the highest dose I was told it came in was 2mg. Knowing she had been caught she stated that she would "SHOW ME" the next time she gave me my medicine that there was a 4mg vial. Of course I knew what would happen next. Three hours later I requested my meds and she came in with the syringe PRE-DRAWN. I was friends with the charge nurse and I asked her about the meds. She stated there was no 4mg vial. I could tell that from then on she gave me the full dose because I could tell how it felt but never once did she produce a 4mg vial.

I've also had nurses that would come to my room with the wrong medications and when I question them and ask them what they are about to give me they have gotten an attitude. I've had a doctor to tell me that they need to find something else to do with Sickle Cell patients besides just giving us pain medication. This just really pisses me off because I doubt if they play these games with Cancer or Aids patients so why do that to us? Why is my pain so different? Why do I always have to suffer because of someone else's ignorance? Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this? Please let me know your experience if you can relate!

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Comment by Austyn Hart-Tinsley on August 7, 2013 at 6:17pm

I'm really sorry you had to go through that.

I myself have never had the experience of not being given my meds, but I have got half doses before, because they thought that I was just seeking drug a lot of the time. My father would be there with me most of the time and watch every move the nurses made to ensure I got what I needed. My aunt is a charge nurse in another state so she tells us what we should look for and know. To solve my problem I had a written protocol for hospital admissions, and it was signed by two of my doctors. So I hope that help a bit.

 Take Care

Comment by im_bossy_ on August 7, 2013 at 5:59pm

Oh my! Yes I just thought it was me. Never could i imagine that someone could be so mean. 

Comment by Bre on July 25, 2013 at 3:09pm
Im sorry you had to go through all this while in pain. Im late on this post but I can understand how you feel. It would seem that nurses would be the most empathetic people but that is not always the case. While I was pregnant I had a crisis that sent me in the hospital for about 3 days. My doctor allowed me to have iv narcotics in small doses. One older black nurse came in the room and made me feel like I was the most disgusting thing in the world. She said her daughter had sickle cell and when she got pregnant wouldnt take any pain meds. I was like good for her. Everytime she came to give me my meds she would slam the plunger in my iv. We being in the hospital so much know that this causes your arm to burn because the meds are going in too fast. She did this to everytime she came in. Ive always been a meek person never wanting to start problems but to this day I wish I had reported her or something. I wouldnt have been hospitilized if my pain wasnt that bad. I only had 2 crises while pregnant. She made my hospital stay horrible. Now when Im in pain Ill turn blue before I goto the er. I certainly hope to find a private prctice or something in case I have a full blow. crises again and I hope you have found a hospital and doctor who truly care about your health.
Comment by Ronald Ragin on July 30, 2009 at 4:51pm
Never had this happen...but I suspect that at some hospitals this could be an issue. Thet is why I always have a member of my family there while I am in crisis and under pain meds. Then I know that someone else is advotating for me. If you have good Docs they should be considerate of your concerns and help ease your fears. If not you need to try some other hospital.
Comment by Sickle Cell Warrior on July 28, 2009 at 11:57pm
Wow Kilah,

Grrrrr...I wish I was there so I could lay into those nurses! As a nurse myself, I have heard stories of this happening, and seen firsthand the raw agony that it brings to patients. This is unethical and such nurses should be reported. You have a legal right to ask to have your medications drawn at your bedside. This way you can verify the dose yourself. Most people don't know this, that's why they get taken advantage of.

The first nurse, the one that gave you a placebo, she sounds like she might be DIVERTING the medications. This occurs when a nurse gives the patient a fake dose, and then takes the real dose and gives it to herself later, all the while charting that she gave the real dose to the patient to cover her ass. Nurses that do this are usually addicted to some narcotic themselves and basically stealing meds from the patients. Nurses that give placebos should be reported! Tell her that you will accuse her of DIVERTING if she ever messes with your meds again, and that should be enough to get her to do the right thing.

In addition, talking to the doctor helps. You have to make sure that your doctor did not order 2-4mg IV Dilaudid but orders the 4mg Dilaudid. If your doc orders 2-4mg, nurses always start with the lowest dose first but then might not give the followup 2mg later. Make sure that you talk to you doctor and he/she orders 4mg and not 2-4!!!

I'm sorry this happened to you...I hope you are home and doing better now. Being sick in the hospital SUCKS ass! I'm so glad that I"m on Nicosan and rarely have to deal with hospitalizations anymore. Much love and hugs your way!

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