It sounds like something out of mystery novel. In an special report that aired this week, it was revealed that someone sent ABC7 I-Team Investigative reporter Chuck Goudie a box of fentanyl patches, a powerful opioid intended for severe pain relief. Along with the box of fentanyl patches was a handwritten note saying that these drugs “lay around like candy.” The note was left unsigned. Fentanyl’s primary use is as a potent pain reliever that is 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. Recently, fentanyl has become somewhat of a household name, becoming well known as the drug that led to the death of Prince, as well as its use to cut heroin, which has led to a dramatic recent spike in overdoses across the country.
The sender left behind several clues about the origin of the drugs. The package sent to Chuck Goudie was postmarked from Oak Park. The fentanyl box was stamped Westchester Health, with the prescribing doctor’s name indicated as Dr. Paintsil and the intended patient’s name as Gayle Sevcik. The I-Team uncovered that Gayle Sevcik was a former patient of Westchester Health & Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Westchester, Illinois, and had passed away 2 weeks after the fill date on the fentanyl prescription box.
Nursing Home Unsure How Prescription Pain Killer Ended up on Reporter’s Desk
Chuck Goudie was able to reach the prescribing physician, Dr. Emmanuel Paintsil, who said he couldn’t explain why the drugs had been mailed to him. Paintsil also serves as the medical director of Westchester Health and when pressed on whether or not drugs ending up in the wrong hands was a frequent event at the nursing home, Dr. Paintsil said that the facility had established protocols for securing and tracking prescription medications to avoid such occurrences. Goudie also reached the pharmacy that filled the prescription, who said that they fill prescription carts for nursing homes and call for those carts to be locked and secured. In response to the package of fentanyl being mailed to Goudie, the pharmacy has changed the locks on the carts provided to Westchester Health.
Levin & Perconti’s Lawsuits vs. Westchester Health
Having successfully represented hundreds of families in nursing home abuse and neglect cases, Levin & Perconti founding partner Steven Levin was asked by ABC7 to comment on this story.
Levin says that federal and state laws have strict rules regarding how to store and handle these drugs and that leaving such potent medicines laying around is the equivalent of drug dealing. According to Levin, unsecured, misused prescription drugs has been a problem in the nursing home industry.
Westchester Health is currently fighting two bedsore lawsuits brought forth by Levin & Perconti on behalf of the victims. The nursing home, a for-profit facility in suburban Illinois, has a ‘much below average’ rating according to Nursing Home Compare, the industry’s most reliable source of nursing home rankings.