WA Health professionals stealing and using opioids: CCC report

Stock image.
Stock image.

WA HEALTH professionals have stolen and used the same drug cited in the deaths of Michael Jackson, Tom Petty and Prince, with one midwife fatally overdosing on the painkiller.

A Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) WA report revealed at least five employees had stolen fentanyl, an opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine, from Perth hospitals between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2017.

The ‘Report on serious misconduct risks around drugs in hospitals’, submitted to Parliament on May 25, outlined discrepancies in hospitals for addictive and potentially fatal restricted drugs.

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WA Health facilities include Royal Perth Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Fremantle Hospital.

The report also noted an inquest into a midwife who injected herself with a fatal dose of the drug in December 2009 after helping a colleague obtain, prepare and administer a fentanyl dose to a patient.

“The Coroner found that the cause of death was accidental,” according to the report.

“He found that there was a gap in security at the point of administration of the drug which needed to be addressed.”

In October 2015, two incidents were reported to the CCC where syringes containing fentanyl had been substituted for another liquid by a male nurse.

One of the syringes administered during surgery was suspected not to contain fentanyl when the patient showed no reaction.

A doctor noticed the second suspect syringe did not contain the correct amount of the drug.

ChemCentre confirmed fentanyl had been substituted in both cases.

The report found the nurse was involved in other drug discrepancies with fentanyl, had drug-related behaviour, and had a fraudulent medical certificate.

WA Health reprimanded the nurse and gave him a final warning but he continued to be employed with access to restricted drugs.

Community News understands the nurse was suspended for eight months following a State Administrative Tribunal hearing on May 29.

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