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Hospitals enlist help to combat painkiller thefts

Star Tribune, October 3, 2011

Rising concern about a string of painkiller thefts by medical staffers has prompted Minnesota hospitals to take the unusual step of joining with the Drug Enforcement Administration, local police and health regulators to improve their security measures. The new coalition hopes to recommend tougher controls early next year. Among the security weaknesses they have targeted are lax oversight on bedside drugs and careless disposal methods. State regulators say drug pilfering by doctors and nurses isn't new -- but the latest rash of cases has come with a disturbing wrinkle, leaving some patients writhing in pain as they're robbed of needed medications. In just the past year, seven nurses and aides have been caught stealing narcotics from hospitals and nursing homes across Minnesota to feed their own habits or to sell drugs on the street. The targets range from anti-anxiety pills like Xanax to powerful pain medicine like fentanyl.