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Medication theft in nursing homes

NewsNursing Home Neglect   July 20, 2017

It isn’t hard to realize that there’s a serious problem with prescription drug addiction happening in the nation — the headlines of every new organization in the country are screaming about it.

What they aren’t discussing nearly as much as where these drugs are coming from in the first place. While there are “pill mills” and dealers who specialize in prescription pills, a lot of addicts start out by stealing drugs from the place they’re easiest to find: an elderly or dying person’s medication bottles.

How do thieves get their hands on the medication that should be going to patients?

  • In assisted living facilities, where patients control their own medications, caregivers may steal pills when they help the senior fill their pill box for the week — taking “extra” pain meds for themselves.
  • If medication is left by a nurse in a cup on a table for a patient who is asleep or in the bathroom, another employee may simply walk in and take what he or she wants.
  • Pain-medication patches, like those containing the highly-potent Fentanyl, have been removed directly from the bodies of nursing home patients who were incapable of protesting or voicing the abuse.
  • Pills like Percocet or Vicodin have been removed from their bubble-wrap and over-the-counter meds like Tylenol put in their place.
  • Injectable drugs have been taken by nurses and other caregivers, while the patients were given saline solution shots instead.
  • Sometimes nurses will “skim” medication out of shots, giving a patient only a partial dose and taking the rest for themselves.

Make no mistake — prescription theft from an elderly nursing home patient who is suffering chronic pain from a long-standing condition or another suffering severe pain from end-stage cancer is a serious problem. It’s also a form of nursing home neglect and abuse.

If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of prescription drug theft by a caregiver, talk to an attorney today.

Source: National Neighborhood Watch — A Division of the National Sheriffs’ Association, “Medication Theft: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Neighbors,” accessed July 14, 2017