Amid Opioid Epidemic, More Doctors Stealing Prescriptions, Finds Report

“Opioid diversion” is a growing problem and more than 47 million doses of legally prescribed opioids were stolen in 2018.

Doctors Stealing Prescriptions Report

Lauren Lollini was astonished when she was diagnosed with hepatitis C and developed a liver infection when was hospitalized for kidney surgery in 2009. She said, “My life dramatically changed because now I am a 40-year-old woman with a 1-year-old daughter who is so fatigued I can’t work.”

Kristen Parker, who was the hospital technician, had infected Lollini along with at least 18 others by leaving contaminated syringes for reuse after stealing their pain medication.

Parker is now serving 30 years in jail.

According to a new report by Protenus, a firm that audits every access to patient data, the so-called “opioid diversion” has been a growing problem. Protenus said, “In 2018, more than 47 million doses of legally prescribed opioids were stolen, an increase of 126 percent from the year before.”

The firm also found that around 34 percent of such incidents happened at medical centers or hospitals, including private practices, long-term healthcare facilities, and pharmacies.

Seventy-seven percent of those cases identified a particular narcotic drug, and the most common was oxycodone (Oxycontin), which was followed by hydrocodone and fentanyl.

Protenus found that 67 percent of the time nurses and doctors were responsible, and Dr. Stephen Loyd of Tennessee was one of them, who said, “What I didn’t realize was how quickly it would escalate. Going from that half of a five milligram Lortab, to within three years about 500 milligrams of Oxycontin a day. That’s about 100 Vicodin.”

He stole drugs away from his patients for more than three years. Dr. Loyd said, “There was no requirements on what happened to those pills. They could go down the toilet or they could go in my pocket.”

He has warned that those who work in the medical industry are at a greater risk of drug abuse. He said, “They’ve got high-stress jobs. A lot of them, like myself, have workaholism. And not only that, you have access.”

He was the director of Tennessee’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services before he started running a rehabilitation facility in Murfreesboro. He has now been clean for 15 years. The director of Strategic Communications Kira Caban of Protenus said. “The firm’s findings are likely a ‘tip of the iceberg’ considering only a fraction of opioid diversions are uncovered because an addict admits to the behavior or a patient gets sick.”