Opioid Epidemic Swindles Its Way into Theft of Nursing Home Resident Medications
A 31-year-old nurse from central Illinois has plead guilty to resident burglary after stealing opioid patches from several terminally ill nursing home patients. Prosecutors say the man was working as a nurse at Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center but was actually not on duty when he entered a resident’s room and stole a pain patch. Just two days later he also removed the same type of medication from a terminally ill person at a care facility where he previously worked. Five other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal which will require him to surrender his nursing license and face a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Nursing home employees can be tempted to steal resident medications to feed and drug addiction habit or may be tempted to take the prescriptions and sell them for their own financial gain. While not OK, nursing home employees are often underpaid, struggling financially, and looking for quick ways to supplement their income. One little pill can be sold for up to $200. Family members have also been known to steal medication from loved ones while caring for them at home or when visiting them in a facility.
Medication Theft is a Form of Nursing Home Abuse
Because of the tragic epidemic of prescription opioid abuse throughout the United States, drug theft in nursing homes is on the rise. Many long-term care patients and nursing home residents are recovering from an injury, managing a chronic health issue or terminal illness. These powerful drugs can be used as helpful medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and help relieve pain. These opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain and require a prescription:
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- Morphine (Duramorph, Roxanol)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
Many nursing home patients are also treated with Benzodiazepines. These drugs are necessary to treat anxiety, seizures, panic disorders, depression, muscle relaxation, and insomnia but are sadly also frequently stolen or abused. And when a patient misses a dose they will react poorly, become irritable, and some may even be capable of harming themselves or others. Examples of these medications include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Clorazepate (Tranxene)
- Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride (Librium)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Estazolam (ProSom)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
When pain medication has been stolen from a nursing home resident through forging a prescription in the patient’s name, replaced by an over-the-counter drug, or simply just not given, it unfortunately can go unnoticed and it is the resident who will suffer. Because most elderly nursing home residents may be unable to communicate or be unaware that they’re not receiving all of the medication they have been prescribed, it is too easy for this issue to go unnoticed. Facilities must have strict pain management regimens and support the safety of those medications for residents within their charge.
Levin & Perconti: Attorneys for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
If someone you love has had their prescription drugs stolen and has been injured or neglected as a result, please contact the Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti. Let us help you and your loved one get the justice you deserve. Call us now at (312) 332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse attorneys.