Misuse of drugs by hospital staff “a possibility,” say authorities

Recently, a media house reported on the misuse of drugs by staff and trainees of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) and RIHS (Royal Institutes of Health Sciences) respectively but when The Bhutanese tried to find out if these allegations were true, the hospital authorities said though they cannot rule out the possibility of such practices, they have not caught anyone red-handed so far.
“We don’t have evidence, neither complaints from the hospital or any of the students,” said the Director of RIHS, Dr. Chencho Dorji, “were such a practice rampant, it would surface in the institute.”
However, he did admit that, “it could be happening”, since the students are working in an environment where they have access to controlled drugs. Though the use of drugs is strictly supervised, there could be opportunities for misuse, he added.
Further, as a safeguard, he said the faculty always talks to students about substance abuse in general.
“We advise our students that it is unethical and it is unprofessional to indulge in such activities,” he said.
According to the Medical Superintendent Dr. Drupthob Sonam, the authorities always remain “vigilant” adding that medicines in every ward are kept under lock and key and the quantity administered to a patient is recorded.
“If there are leftover medicines, the person concerned will have to hand over the balance sheet to the next nurse on duty. And if the stock is over they have to make an order from the store.” Thus, he said the whole process of acquiring a drug is strictly monitored.
If the drugs are really abused, “then the method they are using may be quite tricky,” he said. For instance, he said that giving half the dose to patients and taking the other half themselves can be a method but “I never thought that this method could be used”.
Dr Drupthob Sonam said if such malpractices are actually taking place frequently, two people need to administer the patient medicines as a checking measure.
The Head of Department of Pharmacy in JDWNRH, Sangay Wangmo, reiterated that the system is really tightly monitored with all drugs kept secure.
“There is format for every medicine prescribed, dispensed and doses given to the patient with proper signature of the concerned person,” she added.
The in-charge of the emergency ward said that the ward is the busiest ward of all but even the staff on duty here have check and balance measures for drug dispensation and till now, they have not come across such problems.

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