Hundreds of Vials of Fentanyl Stolen, Replaced with Tap Water - News - @ JEMS.com


Hundreds of Vials of Fentanyl Stolen, Replaced with Tap Water

Some patients might have been left in pain because of the theft


 
 

Peta Carlyon, ABC Premium News | | Tuesday, October 16, 2012


VICTORIA, Australia -- Victorian police are investigating the disappearance of large amounts of a powerful, highly addictive painkiller from the state's ambulance service.

An internal investigation found that hundreds of vials of the drug Fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, had been stolen and replaced with tap water.

A paramedic has been stood down.

Fentanyl is a potent narcotic and commonly administered by syringe to give patients pain relief.

The Ambulance Employees Association's Phil Cavanagh says the union is helping the paramedic.

"It's a tragedy on so many fronts," he said.

"I guess there are people who are susceptible to these sorts of drugs and I guess the opportunity arose and so unfortunately he may have an addiction."

Mr Cavanagh has criticised the ambulance service for letting the theft to go unnoticed for some time.

"Clearly the checks and balances are not there," he said.

"This should have been detected a long time ago, but it wasn't."

Ambulance Victoria's chief executive Greg Sassella says some patients might have been left in pain because of the theft.

"It is possible that some patients did not receive the expected level of pain reduction, or pain reduction was delayed while other medication was provided," he said in a statement.

"We are committed to our patients and will contact those who may not have experienced the desired levels of pain reduction."

Mr Sassella says all vials of the drug will now be kept in tamper-proof packaging.

"I want to assure the Victorian community that they are safe in the hands of our paramedics," he said.

The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Stephen Parnis, says Fentanyl can provide enormous relief to patients when it is used correctly.

But he says the drug is also highly addictive and can be misused and abused.

"Fentanyl is a narcotic, it's in the same family of drugs as pethidine and morphine. It is a very powerful pain reliever and it is very effective in that regard," he said.

"But it also has a number of significant side effects, the most serious being respiratory depression. So if it's used in the wrong way, people can stop breathing and they are at risk of dying."

Dr Parnis has moved to reassure the public.

"I work on a daily basis with ambulance paramedics and I think in Victoria we have some of the world's best paramedical services," he said.

"I know these people, I know the measures that have been taken by Ambulance Victoria, and I also want to reassure the community that they have nothing to be afraid of."

There are suggestions crime figures could be involved in the theft of the drug, but the union's Phil Cavanagh hopes that is not the case.

"We just hope that our members are strong enough to perform their role to the best of their ability," he said.

Mr Cavanagh says the case is a tragedy for the paramedic involved.

"It more than likely spells the end of his career as a paramedic, which is a damn shame," he said.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Truck Strikes Pedestrians in Scotland

Six killed in downtown Glasgow.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >