The Retrievals, a podcast from The New York Times, examines how one rogue nurse at Yale Fertility Center systematically stole fentanyl intended for patients, leading as many as 200 women to experience excruciating pain during procedures. Worse still, the women who alerted their doctors all had their concerns dismissed.
On its face, the podcast is a dispatch from the contemporary drug war. The thieving nurse was a middle-aged mother taking the fentanyl to deal with her divorce-related stress. But it is also a tale of institutional incompetence and rampant sexism.
As the podcast tells the story, it becomes mind-bogglingly clear just how easily the theft should have been discovered. The thieving nurse was sloppy, and scores of women—many of them medical professionals themselves—repeatedly told their doctors they were experiencing levels of pain that should have been nearly impossible given the painkillers they were believed to be taking.
The women at Yale Fertility Center were doubly abused. First they endured unnecessary horrific pain. Then their pain was ignored by doctors who could have helped them—and saved future patients from suffering a similar fate.