Official: Employee at Jefferson Regional replaced Oxycodone with non-narcotic meds

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PITTSBURGH —

Officials at Jefferson Regional Hospital said an employee replaced oxycodone medication with a non-narcotic drug.

After making the discovery, hospital officials said they conducted an internal investigation that determined a pharmacy technician who handled medication packaging in the hospital pharmacy switched the medication for the narcotic.

Officials said there is a possibility that approximately 362 patients who received care at the hospital between June and October 2012 may have received the substituted non-narcotic medication for prescribed oxycodone.

Jefferson Regional officials said they are not aware of any adverse reactions or side effects as a result of the medication substitution to patients, and has determined that it is very unlikely that the substituted medications will cause any harm, or have any lasting effects.

"Drug diversion in hospital settings is on the rise nationally. However, Jefferson Regional recognizes that it is never acceptable and must be stopped," said Richard F. Collins Jr., MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Jefferson Regional. "Jefferson Regional is committed to providing safe, quality care and it is unfortunate that our hospital and our patients were impacted by the acts of one employee who broke the law."

Officials said they are in process of notifying patients that may have been affected. The accused employee has since been fired.

A pharmacist not associated with the hospital said oxycodone is a powerful drug used for severe pain, and anyone given a different drug could have suffered extreme pain.

"Unfortunately, it's the day and age we live in. I think it's horrid," Nancy Felix said.

Officials said questions can be directed to the patient information center at 412-267-6006 or via email at PatientCareInfo@JeffersonRegional.com.