|L'Hopital Notre-Dame in Montreal. (CHANTAL POIRIER/QMI Agency Files)
MONTREAL — A nurse was suspended for 15 months after his professional association found him guilty of stealing heavy opiates and working under their influence at two Montreal hospitals.
Patrick Perron's drug of choice was Dilaudid, an opiate four-to-six times stronger than morphine.
According to the Order of Nurses of Quebec, he would lose his balance and colleagues said his eyes looked glassy. He also forgot a tray of medications — that were supposed to be kept under lock and key — in the middle of the hospital hallway.
The professional association found Perron increased the Dilaudid dosages of certain patients under his care and injected the surplus into himself.
His behaviour started to concern his colleagues at L'Hopital Notre-Dame around February 2010. A few months later, his supervisor discovered that certain patients were given higher doses of Dilaudid during the nights when they were under Perron's care.
Officials at the hospital gave Perron a drug test and he failed. He tested positive for Dilaudid and morphine and the hospital fired him in June 2010.
However, while the Order of Nurses of Quebec was investigating a complaint against Perron, he was able to find work at another hospital.
He began working in August at Hopital de Lachine in the city's west end and almost immediately started showing signs that he was high on the job, according to documents from his disciplinary hearing with the Order of Nurses.
His new supervisor complained to the agency that placed Perron at the hospital.
The head nurse tried to make Perron confess that he was addicted to drugs. He was offered a chance to participate in the hospital's employee assistance program. Perron allegedly denied taking drugs.
Jean-Francois Desilets, spokesman for the placement agency that worked with Perron, said the agency was unable to perform a proper background check on him. Desilets said the agency's requests to access Perron's file weren't answered.
"We were left completely in the dark," Desilets told QMI Agency.
The Order of Nurses of Quebec told QMI Agency that it doesn't reveal that a hospital worker is under investigation before it renders a decision.
When the placement agency learned of Perron's suspected behaviour, it suspended him.
Quebec's Order of Nurses found Perron guilty in December 2011 of stealing and using drugs on the job at the two Montreal hospitals.
If Perron decides to work again in the medical field after his 15-month suspension, he will be barred from coming into contact or administering narcotics or other controlled substances for 18 months.