MGH Settles Drug Theft Case For $2.3 Million

Massachusetts General Hospital has agreed to pay the United States $2.3 million to resolve allegations that lax controls enabled MGH employees to divert controlled substances such as oxycodone for personal use.

The Justice Department announced the settlement Monday afternoon, calling it the largest of its kind involving allegations of drug diversion at a hospital.

"Under the law, hospitals like MGH have a special responsibility to ensure that controlled substances are used for patient care and are not diverted for non-medical uses,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. "Diversion of these drugs feeds addiction, contributes to potential illegal drug sales, and fuels the opioid epidemic that has had a devastating effect on the Commonwealth."

MGH has agreed to implement a corrective action, including the establishment of an internal drug diversion team, to prevent, identify and address future diversions, according to federal prosecutors.

According to the feds, an investigation was launched in 2013 after MGH disclosed to the Drug Enforcement Administration that two nurses had stolen nearly 16,000 pills, mostly oxycodone, from the hospital's automated dispensing machines.

A DEA audit revealed pill count discrepancies at MGH totaling over 20,000, as well as "missing or incomplete medication inventories, and hundreds of missing drug records."

MGH subsequently disclosed "that a pediatric nurse with a 12-year substance abuse problem had injected himself with Dilaudid at work; a physician had prescribed controlled substances for patients without seeing them and without maintaining medical records; several nurses were able to divert prescription drugs for many years without being detected; and medical staff had failed to properly secure controlled substances, even, on occasion, bringing them to lunch."


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