Healthcare News & Insights

Staffer steals Fentanyl, infects patients with Hep C

needle-and-vials

Stoned staffers roaming the halls present more than just the obvious risks to patients.

A recent case shows exactly how insidious the problem of addicted employees can be to health care organizations.

A former surgery technician has pleaded guilty to product tampering and obtaining controlled substances illegally. The tech, formerly employed at Rose Medical Center in Denver, injected herself with Fentanyl — then reloaded the syringes with saline and put them back in the anesthesia carts. It was later proven that her actions infected 17 patients with Hepatitis C.

It’s no secret that a few troubled health care workers help themselves to the pharmacy stock when they have the chance. But some argue that having an automated dispensing unit (ADU) on every floor actually makes it harder to check the misuse of drugs.

ADUs are fairly secure — if they are frequently monitored and audited for discrepancies. The problem is they can give a busy workforce a false sense of security since all access is recorded. If too much time passes between audits, it can be hard to identify the root of the problem. And all the while, abuse of prescription drugs continues in hospital halls.

Another potential loophole for drug-seeking staffers: wasted meds. While these “returned” doses are tracked, they often are treated less securely since they can’t be put back on the pharmacy shelves. Unusual volumes or patterns of waste should be examined as closely as any other drug discrepancy is.

Do you think your organization has adequate controls in place to prevent/identify drug diversion tactics? Sound off in the comments.

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Comments

  1. PATTY KIBODEAUX says:

    ALL INJECTABLES SHOULD BE UNIT DOSE, IF A NURSE WILL NOT GIVE AN INJECTION IF SHE HERSELF DID NOT DRAW IT UP, THEN WHY SHOULD SHE GIVE IT FROM AN OPENED MULTI DOSE VIAL. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT WE GIVE.

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