The SF Gate reported that a Minnesota nursing home worker had been fired for stealing drugs from a resident. North Ridge Care Center in New Hope reported the worker to health officials and the police. The worker stole Oxycodone from the resident who had been prescribed the narcotic for pain management. The worker admitted to taking medication from 12-24 patients over four months. As a result of the worker’s theft, the home implemented a new system to prevent medication theft. See full article at TwinCities.
Foster’s Daily Democrat reported that Nina Perez has been convicted and sentenced for stealing morphine that was supposed to go to an elderly nursing home patient. Perez was a licensed practical nurse at The Edgewood Centre who pleaded guilty to one class B felony count of possession of a controlled drug and one misdemeanor count of abuse of facility patients.
Perez took a quantity of the controlled drug morphine that was prescribed for a resident and retained it for her own use. Perez received a sentence of twelve months followed by two years of probation. Six months of the sentence was suspended for two years upon the condition of good behavior. Perez also received a sentence of two to five years at the New Hampshire State Prison and a $350 fine. The term of incarceration was suspended for three years upon the condition of good behavior. Perez’s nursing license has been revoked and she has been added to a federal database of individuals who are excluded from working in health care facilities for five year.
In an article from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, it was reported that Shelbyville nurse Brooke Sissom was accused of stealing pain medications from patients at the Manchester Health Care Center where she worked. Brooke Sissom allegedly used the names and prescriptions of patients to order some potent pain medications which she proceeded to take herself, although it is possible that she may have sold some.
On October 12, she was arrested and charged with “nine counts of obtaining controlled substance by fraud,” while she was ordering new prescriptions. The nursing home staff became suspicious of her activities and notified the police, even going so far as to locate and save documents recording the sales which Sissom attempted to destroy.
She is responsible for endangering the lives of patients who were unable to receive their medications. Records from the Tennessee Board of Nursing have recently been brought to light, testifying that Sissom’s nursing license was place in probation back in 2009 due to “‘unauthorized removal of controlled substances without authorization’ and ‘incorrect entries in patient records.’” However, she has just been set free on a $10,000 bond.
The Duluth News Tribune reported that a Minnesota nurse was recently found to have stolen hundreds of painkillers from 34 residents of a Ecumen nursing home and short-term rehabilitation center. The thefts, which occurred undetected over a five-moth period, included the high power painkiller, oxycodone, among other drugs and totaled over 760 pills. The stealing was only brought to the attention of the facility after a resident who was not administered her oxycodone complained that she was “having extreme pain” without it. It was found that the nurse who was taking the pills was signing out the pills without ever administering them to her residents.
It is maddening to think that almost three dozen residents could have suffered in pain without their medicine while this selfish human being stole their pills. This absolutely calls into question the quality of employees nursing homes are employing and management’s supervision. Even worse, this incident of pill philfering is just one among many as can been seen by the increase in the number of drug thefts in Minnesota. In hospitals and nursing homes across the state the number of reported cases has increased by twice the rate they were in 2005. “The trend reflects what experts say is a nationwide surge of prescription drug abuse — in many cases by the very people entrusted with caring for patients.”
In Greenwood, Mississippi, a Leflore County grand jury has indicted a former employee at Golden Age Nursing Home in Greenwood on seven counts of illegally obtaining drugs while on duty. The Greenwood Commonwealth reported that 46-year-old Stephanie Ray Barton is accused of taking painkillers from residents. If convicted, the licensed practical nurse faces up to 35 years in prison.
Barton is accused of stealing Lorcet, a prescription painkiller containing hydrocodone, by signing for the drug on patients’ records and then keeping it.
An interesting article reported on Minnesota Public Radio that two nurses, at separate facilities, have both been accused of stealing pills from their residents. A nurse in Fairbault facility stole Percocet, while another nurse in Inver Grove Heights stole Oxycodone. In both cases the perpetrators were reported to the state nursing board by their facility managers. A new law in Minnesota requires all state health licensing boards to investigate ways to make background checks for applicants and licensees more thorough.
Incidents like these truly exemplify the need for more stringent background check procedures so family can be more confident in the quality of staff they are trusting their loved ones with.
The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported that a Machelle Looney, a staff member from Lynn’s Personal Care Home in Windgap, Pennsylvania has been charged with stealing her residents’ morphine pills. Morphine is a narcotic used to treat serious pain. How could anyone take someone else’s needed pain medication especially someone hired to take care of a resident?
She then left the residents that were in her care alone while she left the home in attempt to sell the stolen pills. Some of the residents that Looney was responsible for suffer from dementia and require constant supervision.
Looney is charged with drug possession, possession with intent to deliver, theft by unlawful taking and reckless endangerment.
ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber report that Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley is asking 34 states what steps they are taking to investigate doctors who are prescribing antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs and painkillers to Medicaid patients at levels far higher than their peers.
For instance, in his letter to Ohio, Grassley notes, "that the top prescriber of the anti-psychotic Abilify wrote 13,825 prescriptions in 2009 – about 54 prescriptions per weekday. Ohio paid $6.7 million for those prescriptions….The biggest prescriber of another anti-psychotic, Seroquel, wrote 18,890 scripts at a cost of $5.7 million. Grassley wrote the tally would amount to nine prescriptions per hour." Grassley went on to explain to Ohio officials that he had concerns about the oversight and enforcement of Medicaid abuse in the state and that the numbers presented to him were "quite shocking."
Grassley has asked state officials to tell him by Feb. 13 what action, if any, "they have taken against top prescribers, whether those doctors are still eligible to bill Medicaid, whether any of the doctors were referred to their state medical boards for investigation, and what systems have been set up to track possibly excessive prescribing, among others."
“These types of drugs have addictive properties, and the potential for fraud and abuse by prescribers and patients is extremely high,” Grassley wrote in Monday’s letters. “When these drugs are prescribed to Medicaid patients, it is the American people who pay the price for over-prescription, abuse, and fraud.”
Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has long argued for greater transparency in health care. The painkillers and mental health drugs Grassley is inquiring about are among the top drivers of Medicaid drug spending.
Ornstein and Weber had previously reported that Florida allowed at least three physicians to keep treating and prescribing drugs to the poor amid clear signs of possible misconduct.
A number of the top-prescribing Medicaid doctors around the country are listed in ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database of payments made by 12 pharmaceutical companies to physicians for speaking and consulting Medicaid, jointly funded by the states and federal government, provides health care coverage to about 60 million low-income enrollees.
Oklahoma’s Aden Evening News on Officer.com reported that thousands of pain pills are missing from Calloway Nursing Home. Police have launched an investigation. Between 2,000 and 3,000 Lortab pills were discovered missing during a routine state audit. Why didn’t the nursing home know it was missing the narcotics?
Several employees are suspected of stealing and distributing the drug, but no employees have been arrested.
ABC News out of Chicago, Illinois reported the sentencing of nursing home employee Marty Himebaugh for criminal neglect that led to the death of 6 nursing home residents. In 2006 six patients died from over-medication of morphine. Himebaugh, a nurse for Woodstock Residence Nursing Center pleaded guilty to one count of criminal neglect and the five other charges were dropped.
Himebaugh will not serve any jail time. Himebaugh was sentenced to only two years of probation. There are still civil cases against Himbaugh that have yet to come to court. One of the plaintiff attorneys for one family was frustrated with the prosecution’s inability to prove the range of charges found during the investigation.