A pharmacy technician at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pittsburgh has been accused of switching pain pills out for anti-nausea and thyroid pills, affecting close to 360 patients over 4 months. Those affected included amputees, post-surgical patients, accident victims, and some suffering from terminal cancers.
In September, 16 victims filed a lawsuit against the hospital, alleging negligence in their practices, which did not include any sort of checks and balances system in monitoring, dispensing, and distributing opioids. One of the victims named in the lawsuit was suffering from painful bone cancer.
The deceit wasn’t discovered until the daughter of one of the victims realized that the pills her mother were taking were not oxycodone and alerted staff. The pharmacy tech, 47 year old Cheryl Ashcraft, admitted that she had been taking the opioids. She was sentenced to less than 1 year in jail and must serve 3 years probation.
The attorney for the victims said they uncovered that in just one day, 500 pain pills had been switched out for something else. The hospital says that once it was notified, they contacted authorities and removed the employee. The families of the victims are hoping that a lawsuit will change practices in the hospital, specifically relating to how medication is dispensed and distributed.