Massachusetts General Hospital to pay record settlement over drug thefts

Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital has agreed to pay a record $2.3 million settlement to resolve allegations its lax drug supply controls allowed two nurses to steal approximately 15,921 pain pills, according to The Boston Globe.

The two nurses, who were identified as "J.S." and "J.Z." in the settlement agreement, stole the pain pills between October 2011 and April 2015. Although "J.S.," who allegedly stole 14,492 pain pills, sometimes appeared high to co-workers and other times was seen falling asleep at work, the hospital did not discover the nurse's actions until she had been stealing for an entire year.

Massachusetts General also allegedly failed to report either of the diversions to the Drug Enforcement Administration within one business day as required under federal law.

The $2.3 million settlement is the largest amount ever paid to settle drug diversion allegations, or the use of substances for nonmedical purposes, at a hospital, according to the report.

To help ensure this doesn't happen again in the future, the hospital has developed a detailed plan to strengthen controls over its drug supply, including the establishment of an internal drug diversion team.

In a statement issued to The Boston Globe, hospital officials said they are "confident" no patients were harmed by the misconduct.

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