Ohio reveals plan to fight theft of prescription drugs in nursing homes

by | Jul 12, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Attorney General Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced a plan to combat the theft of prescription drugs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The initiative is one of several state efforts aimed at reducing the abuse of prescription painkillers, which has led to record numbers of accidental overdose deaths.

DeWine said a letter going out next week to all care facilities in the state reminds them of their obligations under law to report suspected illegal activity and lets them know of assistance available from the state to prosecute prescription drug theft.

He said that in many cases employees steal prescription drugs to feed their own addictions and the addictions of loved ones or to sell them on the streets.

“Every time this happens a real patient is deprived of the medication they need to get well,” DeWine said in a statement. “This is why my office is now contacting facility administrators throughout the state. We want to remind them that we can help.”

Central Ohio resident Timothy Tyler said a nursing home aide stole at least three of his pain patches in 2008 until he caught her in the act and called police.

DeWine cited some of the thefts, called drug diversions, over the past several years, including:

— The convictions of three nurses in Meigs County caught by surveillance cameras stealing prescription pain patches and pills.

— A Franklin County nurse convicted of stealing Oxycodone pills.

— A Cuyahoga County nurse convicted of stealing Percocet and Oxycodone pills and replacing them with Tylenol and Zofran tablets.

DeWine said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is authorized to review and investigate complaints of elderly abuse, neglect and drug diversion. He said the unit has agents who specialize in investigating crimes against care facility residents and they’re available to help law enforcement agencies that may lack the resources to investigate such cases.