Health & Medicine

Nonprofit healthcare system to pay $2.4 million in drug management settlement

Rideout Health, the Yuba-Sutter county nonprofit healthcare system, will pay $2.4 million to settle federal claims that it allegedly mishandled records for thousands of drug transactions within three of its healthcare facilities, according to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The facilities listed in the settlement, announced Tuesday afternoon, included the Rideout Memorial Hospital, located in Marysville, as well as Yuba City’s Fremont Medical Center and Feather River Surgery Center.

The alleged violations were first investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration after it received information from the California State Board of Pharmacy that the system’s Fremont Medical Center was operating with an expired DEA registration.

Investigators were also told that pharmacy technicians at Rideout Memorial Hospital, located in Marysville, were transporting drugs and prescription medication between facilities with little to no security measures from Oct. 23, 2012 to Oct. 23, 2014.

As part of the settlement, Rideout Health will have to follow a three-year compliance plan to resolve claims that it violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to properly record and maintain the drug transactions.

Rideout Health Chief Executive Officer Gino Patrizio said in an email Tuesday that the healthcare system has worked with DEA and Department of Justice officials to improve drug management and protocols across all of its facilities. That includes the integration of a new electronic medication delivery system with built-in security features, the hiring of a director of pharmacy and a medication safety officer.

“Hospitals have a duty to ensure that controlled substances are not diverted for nonmedical use,” U.S. attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a press release. “When a pharmacy or hospital has record keeping problems, it is impossible to know exactly how many controlled substances are on hand.”

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets