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Boston paramedic may have tampered with drugs

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Boston health officials say a paramedic may have tampered with vials of drugs.
A city public health department spokesperson says that at  least 57 people treated in a city-run ambulance may have been exposed to  blood-borne illnesses. They say an unidentified paramedic may have tampered with  syringes full of sedatives and painkillers during six-week period in the summer  of 2011.

Health  officials over the weekend began notifying potential victims to inform them and  offer free medical testing. Officials said there is nothing to indicate the  paramedic has any type of infectious disease.

The paramedic is thought to have tampered with powerful  painkillers like morphine and fentanyl.

Seven people who were treated by that paramedic  have passed away, but officials believe the deaths were unrelated to the  possible drug contamination.

A  criminal investigation is underway. The paramedic was relieved of all duties  since the alleged misconduct was discovered on Sept. 7, 2011. So far, the  paramedic is not facing any charges.

Officials  did not say why they believe the paramedic tampered with the medicines.

 

Statement from Boston  EMS:

BOSTON – As part of  an ongoing investigation initiated by Boston EMS into misconduct by one of its  uniformed paramedics, the department has notified 57 patients that they  potentially received compromised medications during EMS treatment.  The 57  patients received doses of controlled medications that may have been tampered  with by the suspected employee during a six week period in the summer of  2011.

All 57 patients have been  offered free screening for infectious diseases, and the Boston Public Health Commission  is running an incident hotline staffed by trained clinicians to answer questions  and provide information to these individuals.  However, the department is  not aware of the suspect having or transmitting an infectious disease to any  patients.

The paramedic in question  has been relieved of all duties since the alleged misconduct was discovered, and  EMS cannot comment on any details pertaining to the employee’s activities  because of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Although EMS’s review of transport records for these patients  showed no indication of adverse health outcomes as a result of the medication  they received, the department decided to inform them out of an abundance of  caution for their safety.

While  the alleged drug tampering happened last summer, Boston EMS was unable to  accurately identify the small number of patients that may have been exposed to  compromised medications until the state lab completed its testing of medication  vials at the end of July 2012.  These tests results then allowed EMS to  identify 64 patients that potentially received compromised medications.

Seven of the patients identified passed away soon after  transport for reasons related to their initial catastrophic injury or medical  event.

It is unclear at this time  how many of the 64 patients actually received compromised medications, but the  group represents a very small subset, approximately 0.4%, of the 16,968 patients  encountered by EMS during the time period in question.

Paramedics are required to have access to a limited number of  controlled medications in order to provide vital pre-hospital care to  patients.  Boston EMS administers fentanyl, lorazepam, and midazolam for  treatment in certain situations.  The department previously carried  morphine, but has not since last November.  The patients that were notified  were treated with one of these four controlled medications.

EMS is cooperating fully with authorities in the criminal  investigation against the suspected employee.

Source: Boston Fox News 25 at http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/19680869/2012/10/01/boston-paramedic-may-have-tampered-with-drugs-infected-patients#ixzz28GGn6jPH

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