Author Archive: Betty Taylor

Data Shows Opioid and Drug Thefts Still Rampant in VA Hospitals

Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 5, 2017 – Authorities are investigating multiple cases of suspected opioid and drug theft by doctors, nurses or pharmacists at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Employees at VA health facilities are suspected of stealing prescription drugs for personal use or sale.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that VA medical centers have more than double the rate of missing drugs than the private sector. The VA inspector general’s office launched 36 new criminal investigations into prescription drug theft or unauthorized use at VA facilities between October 1 and May 19. The department currently has 108 open criminal cases involving drug theft, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

“The data indicates the VA’s drug theft problem is not going away. The VA needs to re-examine its policies to enhance drug safety across its entire network of hospitals,” commented Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans’ attorney. “Of particular concern is the fact that drug theft can put patients at risk of harm. Employees found to be guilty of stealing prescriptions should be held accountable for their actions.”

The VA promised “zero tolerance” to opioid and drug theft following the February AP report that revealed an increase in the number of cases involving missing or stolen drugs at VA facilities since 2009. The department responded by announcing plans to conduct more inspections, subject employees to drug tests and audit data to identify problems.

However, investigators said it was difficult to determine whether the new safeguards have been effective. They emphasized that continuing drug theft prevention measures were necessary at VA medical facilities. The DEA said that the VA may have misclassified certain cases of missing drugs, attributing them to reasons such as transit problems rather than employee theft.

Acting VA Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Jeffrey Hughes warned, “Veterans may be denied necessary medications or their proper dosage and medical records may contain false information to hide the diversion, further putting veterans’ health at risk.”

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Increase Reserve Bank powers to collect foreign insurer information, NZ Law Society says

The Reserve Bank should have the power – and where appropriate, should exercise that power – to collect information about all insurance written in New Zealand, including insurance provided by foreign insurers.

This is submitted by the New Zealand Law Society in its comments to the Reserve Bank on the bank’s Issues Paper: Review of the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010.

The Law Society says the provisions in the Act are not fit for purpose because they do not provide for new forms of insurance enabled by technology which is not limited by geographical boundaries.

It says not all foreign insurers that provide insurance coverage in New Zealand are required to be licensed. The Reserve Bank considers each foreign insurer on a case by case basis, taking into consideration whether they have a place of business, staff or infrastructure in New Zealand and whether they market insurance directly to New Zealand customers.

An International Monetary Fund report released since the Reserve Bank’s Issues Paper has highlighted that there is no data on the number of overseas insurers offering insurance contracts in New Zealand without a licence.

“The insurance prudential regulator needs to have sufficient detail of the insurance business written in New Zealand in order to be able to appropriately supervise insurers,” the Law Society says in its recommendation that the Reserve Bank be given the power to collect information on all insurance written in New Zealand.

The Law Society says it does not consider it necessary to apply all aspects of the regime in the Act to all insurers providing insurance coverage in New Zealand.

“To do so may have a damaging impact on the availability of reinsurance cover or the participation of foreign insurers in the New Zealand insurance market more generally,” it says.

“The Law Society recommends that the Reserve Bank be provided with more flexible exemption powers to permit appropriate oversight without inhibiting participation in the New Zealand insurance market.”