Cheshire Medical Center keeps pharmacy permit, with restrictions

Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H., part of Dartmouth Health, on July 28 reached a settlement with the state's pharmacy board that allows it to keep its pharmacy permit, with various restrictions that will last for three years, The Keene Sentinel reported Aug. 1.

 The hospital's pharmacy permit was in jeopardy after state regulators launched an investigation into how more than seven gallons of fentanyl went missing from the hospital from September 2021 through January. At least 200 bags of fentanyl solution were stolen by a former nurse, and no other employee has been accused of involvement in the thefts.The investigation is ongoing. 

Under the settlement agreement, all disciplinary actions against Cheshire Medical Center will be resolved if conditions are obeyed. The hospital will keep its permit, with restrictions that require the hospital to hire a third-party monitor by October to conduct regular audits of its controlled substances and require the appointment of different employees as pharmacist-in-charge and director of pharmacy. Both of those roles were held by Melissa Siciliani, PharmD, during the time the drugs went missing. She recently settled with the state's pharmacy board after having her license temporarily suspended. 

After two years of compliance, the settlement says the hospital can petition the state board to have the restrictions lifted, according to The Keene Sentinel. The hospital is also required to pay an administrative fine of up to $225,000. If Cheshire Medical Center complies with the agreement, it will only pay $45,000 of that.

The hospital recently named Anne Tyrol, MSN, RN, interim chief nursing officer. She takes over for former CNO Amy Matthews, DNP, RN, who had her license temporarily suspended. The emergency suspension of Dr. Matthews' license was vacated after a June 23 hearing. It's unclear whether she is still employed at the hospital. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration is still actively investigating the drug loss and the settlement requires Cheshire Medical to comply with the investigation.

"Our top priority is to deliver high quality care and to provide a safe patient and employee environment," the hospital said in an August 1 statement, according to the news outlet. "Since the theft of the controlled substance that we discovered and reported earlier this year, we have been intensely focused in taking steps to prevent future occurrences." 

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