The majority of healthcare professionals in the pharmacy profession are trustworthy people who find fulfillment in providing such important services to patients and playing an important role working with the other members of the healthcare community. Everyone here at Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing strongly believes in the integrity, honesty and the high moral standards that both the pharmacists and the registered technicians we provide to our clients exhibit. All of us here at HCC feel great pride in representing our industry with qualified and high quality individuals. Unfortunately, we have recently seen a dramatic rise in drug related thefts in pharmacies across the nation, including many criminal actions by pharmacy technicians. The news recently has been full of stories that may, perhaps, paint a very negative picture to the US public in regards to pharmacy techs.
Recent Pharmacy Technician Thefts in the News
As we’ve just discussed recently, the pharmacy profession is receiving an increased frequency of scrutiny and attention dominated by some very negative Rx news in the press.
Here are several recent high profile media stories that we can take a quick look at to sum up the problem.
Springfield, Missouri – A pharmacy technician was arrested for stealing morphine and fentanyl and replacing the empty syringes with normal saline solution. The former Mercy Medical Center pharmacy technician was later indicted on two counts of tampering with a consumer products.
Savannah, Georgia – A pharmacy technician was arrested for multiple felony and drug charges for stealing controlled substances from a Richmond Hill pharmacy chain. It is believed that over the course of May to June, the technician stole upwards of 700 prescription pills, all of which were opioid-based medications. Additional charges are expected as the investigation continues.
Phoenix, Arizona – A pharmacy technician was accused of stealing over $100,000 worth of medical supplies (specifically diabetes test strips) that he then resold online. He was indited on 30 counts of computer tampering and 3 counts of trafficking in stolen property, theft and fraudulent schemes.
Daytona Beach, Florida – For the second time in three weeks, a pharmacy technician was arrested after being caught on video surveillance stuffing her shirt with prescription bottles from the pharmacy’s safe. It was at first thought she stole more than a dozen prescription drug bottles, but after further investigation, it was found that hundreds of Oxycodone and amphetamine pills had also gone missing. She has been charged with grand theft, trafficking in Oxycodone and four counts of drug possession.
The problem of pharmacy technician drug thefts is not limited to smaller independent pharmacies, nor are they isolated incidents. Just a few months ago, a pharmacy technician working for a Walgreens in Springfield, Illinois admitted to stealing thousands of opioid pain pills over a nine-month period of working for the company. She is currently awaiting sentencing.
The unfortunate part is that while many of these thefts involve individuals stealing prescription drugs in order to make money, the majority also use them on the job. This obviously leads to endangering patients because impairment can increase the risk of medication errors. According to the website Power-Pak C.E., a continuing education website for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, a medication error is “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm.” Pharmacy technicians roles are crucial to the pharmacy practice and it is imperative they follow the pharmacies policies, procedures and practices in order to prevent errors and minimize risks in regards to medication usage.
And it doesn’t stop at the pharmacy technician. The pharmacist is also held responsible for medication errors as it is their responsibility to check the accuracy of calculations completed by a pharmacy technician. Take this example from a Cleveland, Ohio hospital where a child was receiving her fourth and final round of cancer treatment. The pharmacy technician that prepared the treatment mixture did not follow the explicit instructions provided which lead to the child’s death after the medication was administered. Three years later, the pharmacist plead no contest to the charge of involuntary manslaughter for not properly supervising the technician. The pharmacy technician was charged by the prosecutor with negligent homicide but was given a “pass” by the grand jury.
How You Can Prevent Drug Theft in Your Pharmacy
Although we at HCC Pharmacy Staffing again firmly believe in the honesty and integrity that exists in the Pharmacy profession, the implications are serious. Legal issues of liability and bad publicity in your community are just a few examples of the repercussions that have been associated with pharmacy technician drug theft. The good news is that the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely holds true in these situations. We at HCC Pharmacy Staffing have been helping independent retail community pharmacies, hospital and clinic pharmacies, as well as compounding and specialty pharmacies prepare for and prevent such situations for over 28 years. We offer the numerous services to make sure that the potential for such an occurrence is kept at reduced and kept at a minimum:
If you employ pharmacy technicians in your pharmacy and business, the time to review and update your policies and procedures manual is now! Do not let potential problems turn into serious threats to YOUR pharmacy. Be pro-active regarding the potential liability and bad publicity that such situations bring. We have been helping pharmacies be prepared since 1989. Let us help you ensure that your pharmacy has no issues by contacting us today for a complete evaluation. Reach us online or call today at 800-642-1652.