A pharmacy tech in an Iowa hospital allegedly removed fentanyl from 252 medication vials that were placed on medication carts throughout the hospital and replaced the opioid medication with sterile water. The alleged substitutions occurred between August 26 and October 7, 2016, and may have affected 731 patients.
The pharmacy tech allegedly stole the fentanyl that was intended to treat the serious pain of patients in the hospital. The hospital reportedly first became aware of the opioid theft after a patient who had undergone spinal surgery received no relief from what was supposed to be fentanyl.
A spokesperson for the hospital stated that the pharmacy tech, who had access to the medication carts placed throughout the hospital as part of his job, allegedly inserted a needle into IV bags that contained fentanyl, removed the fentanyl from the IV bags, and replaced the medication with sterile water. Because the hospital does not know where the pharmacy tech obtained the needle or whether the needle was sterile, the hospital began calling the 731 patients on October 24, 2016 and offered free HIV testing to anyone who may have received the possibly contaminated IV bags. The hospital has downplayed the risk to patients who may have been affected by the pharmacy tech’s actions, stating that the risk is low and its offer of free HIV testing is only a precaution (the pharmacy tech reportedly was tested for communicable diseases and the results were negative).
The pharmacy tech has been fired by the hospital and as of two weeks ago, no state or federal charges had been filed against him.
A representative of the hospital stated, “We were shocked. We were saddened by that. Our goal here is the best outcome for every patient, every time. We have caregivers, physicians, nurses, our staff, volunteers all committed to that vision and our mission of caring for patients in our community. So when something like this happens, it really reverberates throughout the organization. What was reported to us was that these were IV medications and so that the tamper-proof packaging had been messed — opened up just slightly, a needle inserted, part of the medication withdrawn, and then replaced with sterile water.”
Some the patients who received tainted medication have contacted local medical malpractice lawyers in Iowa to investigate whether they have legitimate claims, and to represent them in medical malpractice cases, if appropriate under the circumstances.
Hospitals throughout the United States are only as good as the people who staff them and the quality of the care that each of the staff provides to their patients. Patients in hospitals necessarily must rely on many different hospital employees to receive the proper diagnosis and to be appropriately treated. Just one bad apple, or just one careless or negligent medical error by a single hospital employee, may result in catastrophic harm suffered by innocent victims of medical negligence.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury (or worse) due to hospital negligence in Iowa or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a hospital malpractice lawyer in Iowa, or a hospital malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your hospital malpractice claim for you and represent you in a hospital medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find hospital medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.
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