16,000 Missing Pills: Drug Theft in U-M Hospital

Drug Theft in U-M Hospital leads to death and overdoseDrug Theft in U-M Hospital Leads to the Death of One Nurse and the Overdose of a Doctor in One Day

Drug theft in U-M Hospital is on the rise, an alarming rise. It was reported that over the past 2 years over 16,000 pills, along with other medications have gone missing at the University of Michigan Hospital. What got this investigation under way? On December 6th of 2013 a nurse was found dead in one of the hospital’s bathroom and hours after that, a doctor was found in a different section, also in a bathroom, overdosed. He was revived, but subsequently lost his job.

At 9:15 a.m., Carla DelVecchio, a 29 year old nurse was found dead from an overdose. A lethal dose of two drugs, fentanyl and midazolam, that are generally mixed together for surgeries, were found in her system. Upon further investigation, they found more than 15 needle marks on her body.At 12:50 p.m., Dr. Timothy Sutton, 32, was found in a separate section of the hospital, on the bathroom floor of an overdose. Sutton claims he injected himself with fentanyl from his doctor’s kit. A vial of morphine was also missing from that same kit. He also confessed to police that he used medication that was for his patients a few times the week prior to his overdose. He was charged and lost his job.

Not only is it dangerous for the doctors and nurses to steal and use drugs on the job, it is also dangerous to run out of the medication that patient might need. If there are certain medications taken without permission, they might not be able to stock up the medication properly. This could end in a patient getting an infection or dying.

These incidents launched an investigation into how much medication was actually being taken from the hospital. The hospital claimed they had no such system to report stolen medication properly and also said they were taking the proper steps to ensure these incidents do not happen again. They were very unwilling to release any information to help out with the investigation. Nevertheless, the investigation did find some alarming figures.

Drug theft in U-M Hospital started off with a report made in February of 2012. A worker stole 16,000 hydrocodone tablets, more commonly known as Vicodin. Sources say they believe the worker stole these pills in a time span of a year. Even in just a year, that is a shocking amount of medication to account for.

In the long list of reported drugs missing, morphine, fentanyl, and hydrocodone were at the top of the list of the most popular drug stolen. These are also just the reported amount of drugs stolen. This does not account for countless medications and also supplies that have been taken. Kimberly New, who is a nurse, as well as, an attorney, is the executive director of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators claims, “It’s largely underestimated. It happens in all hospitals.”


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