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Opioid Theft All Too Common in Nursing Homes

A doctor putting medication in his pocket

Current or Former Employees Likely Responsible for Medication Theft

Pain medication thieves recently scored rather too easily at an Oklahoma nursing home. This was the second time in just one month in which patients’ narcotics were taken from the home. Reports from local police in Sulphur say the thieves climbed through the outside office window at the nursing home and stole more than 500 doses of opioids and other drugs including Norco ((acetaminophen and hydrocodone), Oxycontin, morphine and Xanax, and fentanyl patches. The estimated value of the stolen medications tallied in at $1,000. The home’s frustrated administrator said since the most recent incident, locks have been changed, and staff are encouraged to watch out for and report any suspicious activities. Local Police think it is possible that a current or former employee may be responsible for the theft, given that they “went straight for the key” to the medicine cart.

Levin & Perconti’s elder abuse lawyers feel this is yet another reminder for family members to keep a close eye on the security plan and safe living conditions of seniors to ensure they and their medications are protected. Nursing home negligence and lapses in care by nursing home providers can serve as just the start of possible misconduct and are often indicative of larger problems with the management of nursing facilities. When staffing decisions are made quickly or with lax standards, negligent and abusive employees are invited to abuse, steal, and wreak havoc on the lives of residents. These scenarios should never be allowed.

Nursing Homes Should Be Responsible for Keeping Narcotics Safe

Leaving residents’ medications unattended without proper security measures in place is equivalent to drug dealing. Theft may also deprive patients of medication needed to control painful conditions but instead some may be left to suffer through the discomfort. Ensure your loved one’s nursing home follows these security measures against drug theft or medication mismanagement.

  • Medications are stored in a room that locks and is without windows.
  • Access to the medication carts and lockers is limited to a key in the administration office, rather than the nurses’ station.
  • Security cameras are located near medication carts, prescription storage lockers, and in hallways.
  • A protocol is in place where two different employees count the supply at the end of the day, not just one.
  • Ask your loved one if they are in pain or have noticed any changes in the way their pain or other medications are being managed.

Medications going missing and being stolen from residents at nursing homes is certainly nothing new. But as our country’s opioid crisis increasingly grows out of control, the fact that such powerful medications can so easily fall into the wrong hands at nursing homes, sometimes leaving residents without, should be more than alarming.

If You Suspect Medication Theft, Talk with a Lawyer Today

At Levin & Perconti, we recognize the need to hold people who ultimately violate the law, rules, or regulations accountable with regard to the care and treatment of patients or residents in their charge. We frequently have families contacting our attorneys to share concerns and seek guidance.

Consultations with our attorneys are both free and confidential. Please call us at (312) 332-2872 or complete our free online consultation request form.

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