New York hospital orders employees to undergo drug testing after vials of narcotics go missing

Officials at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y., recently discovered 27 vials of fentanyl, phenobarbital, morphine and other drugs kept in secure storage in the hospital's intensive care unit were drained with a syringe and replaced with water, according to News12.

The discovery was made July 23. The following day, the hospital ordered all employees with access to the vials to undergo drug testing. That decision led to a short legal battle between the union representing nurses at NUMC and the hospital.

The nurses' union argued a collective bargaining agreement barred administrators from randomly drug testing employees. However, the union claimed it was told by NUMC officials that the Nassau County district attorney and the FDA advised the hospital's acting CEO to ignore the union demand and to test all employees who had access to the drugs. The Nassau County district attorney's office said it was not aware of any employee issuing that directive to NUMC, according to the report.

Twenty-five hospital employees with access to the secure storage unit submitted urine tests, and the union sued to prevent the results from being released.

On July 30, a New York Supreme Court Justice approved a compromise. Instead of releasing the full drug test results to the hospital, test results will be given to the judge with a list of the substances that were missing from the hospital, according to the report.

Regarding the missing drugs at NUMC, the hospital released the following statement to News12:

"Upon discovery of the unauthorized removal of narcotics from a secure storage container at Nassau University Medical Center, hospital officials immediately launched an internal investigation of the incident and notified all appropriate law enforcement authorities. In the interest of patient and staff safety, we have asked for cooperation from several faculty members who had access to the secure location where the drugs were stored. In accordance with hospital policies, and local, state, and federal reporting requirements, the hospital will continue its investigation, with the cooperation of law-enforcement, until the incident is resolved."

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