clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Federal authorities investigating large drug theft at VA hospital

Authorities are investigating a large-scale drug theft at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Authorities are investigating a large-scale drug theft at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Adobe stock photo

SALT LAKE CITY — Authorities are investigating a large-scale drug theft at the Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Hospital.

"Clearly, we regret that this diversion occurred," spokeswoman Jill Atwood said in a statement Wednesday.

Atwood said officials at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs health care system "immediately" notified federal officials about "irregularities in prescription distribution" when they noticed.

Drug Enforcement Agency officials are now investigating, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office, according to Atwood.

A pharmacy supervisor is suspected of stealing more than 24,000 painkillers and 25 vials of testosterone over five years, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday, basing its report on leaked documents purportedly obtained from employees at the medical center.

The criminal investigation is entering its 12th month, according to the report.

Atwood said the hospital has added new software, training and "procedural changes" to make sure the theft doesn't happen again.

State and federal officials declined to comment on the investigation.

Health care facilities are required to report disciplinary actions or findings of misconduct to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing within 60 days.

Hospitals are also required to notify the DEA of thefts of controlled substances within a business day.

John Eddington, assistant special agent in charge at the DEA's Utah office, said theft and misuse of pharmaceuticals — particularly opioids — is becoming increasingly common.

Eddington linked the trend to rising levels of prescription painkiller and heroin abuse in the state and across the country.

Email: dchen@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DaphneChen_