Jefferson Regional says it fired technician who substituted medication
Jefferson Regional Medical Center on Wednesday notified 362 patients that they may have received a “non-narcotic” medication instead of the intended painkiller oxycodone, hospital officials said.
The hospital fired a pharmacy technician who switched the medications while packaging drugs in the pharmacy at the 369-bed facility in Jefferson Hills.
Hospital officials refused to identify the worker or say if the oxycodone was stolen for the worker's use or for illegal sale outside the hospital.
An internal hospital investigation led officials there to contact several state and federal agencies, including the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the state Department of Health.
“We have received information from the hospital, but we don't disclose details of ongoing investigations,” said Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for state Attorney General Linda Kelly.
The affected patients received care at the hospital between June and October, but hospital spokeswoman Mary Beth Lowery said she was not permitted to say in which department they were treated. She would not identify the substitute medication, saying only that the patients received a “non-narcotic drug.”
“Jefferson Regional is not aware of any adverse reactions or side effects as a result of the medication substitution in our patients, and has determined that it is very unlikely that the substituted medications will cause any harm, or have any lasting effects,” the hospital said in a statement.
The agencies involved in the investigation would not say if charges have been or will be filed against the worker. Jefferson Hills police Chief Gene Roach said his department was not involved in the investigation and that he learned about the case on Wednesday when hospital officials sent him a statement prepared for the media.
“Anytime you have someone in the inside, that gives them a license to steal,” said Jim Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington. “It's very hard to prevent because a (pharmacy) tech may have so much access to information.”
People who take drugs from the workplace can be addicted to drugs or sell the drugs “for a huge markup” to dealers, Quiggle said.
Hospitals have safeguards in place to protect access to narcotics, said Dr. Neil Capretto, a psychiatrist and medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Center, Beaver County. That includes keeping drugs such as morphine and oxycodone in locked storage. Pharmacists and nurses generally take inventory of all narcotics between shifts, he said.
“People are very ingenious when it comes to stealing drugs,” Capretto said. “It happens more often than we're aware of. Sooner or later they get caught when they get desperate or someone notices erratic behavior.”
Luis Fábregas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Port Authority fires two bus drivers involved in rollover crash
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- LCB ruling could mean home-delivered beer in Pa.
- Steelers must be creative in providing snaps for linebackers
- Police gather in Ligonier for Perryopolis officer’s funeral
- Giant Eagle Inc. appears to have settled ‘fuelperks!’ lawsuit
- Analysis: Misunderstood Chryst served Pitt well
- Arbitration decides Westmoreland court workers’ pact
- Rossi: Brawl for ADs between Pitt and WVU
- Stock market closes 2nd best week of 2014