BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a $50,000 civil settlement today with Nantucket Cottage Hospital (NCH) in connection with the improper recordkeeping of Schedule II controlled substances by its pharmacy and the failure to maintain effective controls against diversion.
“Under the law, hospitals like NCH have a special responsibility to ensure that controlled substances are used for patient care and are not diverted for non-medical uses,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Diversion of these drugs feeds addiction and fuels the opioid epidemic that has had devastating effects throughout Massachusetts, including in island communities like Nantucket.”
“DEA registrants are responsible to handle controlled substances and ensure that complete and accurate records are being properly kept and accounted for in compliance with the Controlled Substance Act,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Albert Angelucci. “Failure to do so increases the potential for diversion and jeopardizes public health and public safety. DEA pledges to work with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure these rules and regulations are followed.”
NCH is a member of Partners HealthCare and an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital. According to the settlement, the government’s investigation revealed that NCH failed to account for several controlled substances, improperly placed prescription drugs in an unlocked pharmacy refrigerator, and stored keys for the expired-medications cabinet in an unlocked pharmacy drawer. NCH also failed to maintain invoices and other records required by law, and failed to report the loss of controlled substances in a timely manner.
NCH and Partners cooperated with the DEA’s investigation and implemented new recordkeeping and security measures. NCH and Partners also agreed to permit the DEA to perform inspections of the pharmacy without a warrant, and to register NCH as a drug collection site that will handle the disposal of drugs for NCH patients and Nantucket residents.
United States Attorney Lelling and DEA Acting SAC Angelucci made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason C. Weida of Lelling’s Civil Division handled the matter.