Ambulance driver, pharmacy assistants arrested over missing Suddie Hospital drugs

Three members of the Suddie Hospital staff have been arrested as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a quantity of drugs allocated to the hospital only last week.

A press release from the Ministry of Public Health yesterday explained that the police were called in to investigate after a visit to the hospital by a Ministerial Task Force found that the authorities there were unable to account for several items sent only last week Tuesday by the ministry’s Materials Management Unit (MMU).

Divisional Commander Superintendent Khalil Pareshram told Stabroek News that an ambulance driver and two pharmacist assistants were arrested yesterday and have since been released on bail.

He explained that the ambulance driver and one assistant transported the drugs from the Diamond bond to Suddie between March 21 and March 22.

“When they arrived it was left overnight in the ambulance and transferred to the pharmacy the next day. The morning after it was transferred an audit was done and the missing items flagged. The head of the ministry task force was informed and they travelled to the hospital to investigate. During their investigation they noticed several issues and informed the police yesterday [Monday] afternoon,” Pareshram said.

He explained that his officers have taken statements from those arrested as well as other members of staff as the investigation continues.

According to the ministry’s release, 10 items on the list of drugs destined for the hospital “either never arrived” or significantly less was received than was sent. These include “all 100 boxes of the drugs Simvastatin (each box contained 100 of the drugs); all 108 bottles of the Paracetamol suspension; 20 of the 1,000 Ampicillin 500mg and all 20,000 disposable gloves sent for the hospital.”

The release noted that the missing items had not been reported to the Regional Health Officer and that several other irregularities were unearthed.

“In one instance the pharmacist at the hospital could not have given account for several ampules of pethidine, codine and morphine while in another, the Dangerous Drugs Register wasn’t up-to-date with the last entry being made sometime in 2015,” it said.

The release added that the team also found instances where the stock of narcotic drugs either could not be accounted for and the pharmacist had extra drugs that were still not recorded as prescribed under the law.

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