Do you have a bug in your ear?

beetle in ear, bug in ear, drug diversion, substance abuse by healthcare providersThis is a guest blog post from Kaye Miller RN

My husband and I have been RN’s in our small town for 23 years. There are only 2 hospitals: We are on staff at the bigger, busier facility. Between the two of us we know people in every unit; and they know us.

Several years ago I was almost asleep when I felt something crawl over my head and scramble into my ear (we are in constant renovation of an old house so critters are common). As the bug hugged my eardrum I screamed in a totally out of character manner that bolted my husband away from the World Series. He thought someone had broken in the bedroom and was attacking me. I couldn’t be still long enough for him to focus the flashlight into my ear. As I continued to fail about the room, I gained the presence of mind to crush the little devil with my finger pressed against the outside of my ear. I felt the ooze of innards and the clawing ceased.


I became faint and diaphoretic. The large, black beetle was dead but blocked my hearing. I was terrified it would come alive in the night. We arrived at the local ER where an RN ‘friend’ I had called in advance was waiting. It helps to have connections. A heplock was immediately started. A drug was given. The ER doc was unable to remove the juicy beetle due to swelling. He assured me the varmint was dead. I walked out of the ER and had the bug removed the next day (very easily) by an ENT friend.

Now, keep in mind that this was a time when you could look up your own records. Upon review I was stunned to see the amount of drugs I was supposedly given. I came to the disappointing conclusion that I could not have received all the documented drugs and walked out of that facility. I’m a light-weight. The amount of drugs charted could have induced respiratory compromise. It was obvious to me that someone was stealing drugs.

After several years of departmental issues and disciplinary actions both RN’s moved on or around to other departments. Both are still clinically active.

But I had practically no wait time in the ER!

Pat Iyer’s note: In the next post, I will tell you how you can recognize a substance abusing healthcare professional.

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