What is Medication Theft? 

Medication theft is a crime in which someone steals another persons’ prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication. These medications were originally intended for another person, and this is a serious crime that can severely impact the victims’ quality of life and can even result in death. Oftentimes, these medicines are stolen for their personal use or to resell to others. Whatever the reason for the theft, medicine theft in nursing homes is a gross abuse of power that threatens the lives of the people in their care. There are attorneys, like those at Knapp & Roberts, who deal with this tragic form of nursing home abuse. 

A Matter of Life and Death

The most common type of medication to be taken recreationally are painkillers and opiates. These are potent, addictive medication when they are taken outside of the strict instruction of a medical professional. 

As you can imagine, going without prescribed pain medication causes immense pain. If these medications were stolen after a surgery, being in such great pain can make wound cleaning unbearable, therefore slowing the healing process and increasing the risk of infection. 

Medication theft differs from types of medical malpractice in that the medical professional is stealing the medication for their own personal use or financial gain, without any thought to the patient. 

Legal Consequences For Medication Theft 

The specific consequences of medication theft change from state to state, but it is oftentimes tried as a federal theft and drug charge. A recent case of nursing home medication theft resulted in a Federal charge of “controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge and one count of false statements relating to health care matters.” These charges are serious, because this is a serious crime that impacts the quality of life of the patients in the nursing home. 

Why Can It Occur at Nursing Home? 

Tragically, nursing homes are common places where medicine theft takes place. People in positions of power, like caretakers, nurses, doctors, and employees at nursing homes can commit these crimes easier since they have more control over the medicine distribution for patients. 

Additionally, some elderly people are suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s that impact their memory and cognition; consequently, they rely on their caretakers to administer prescribed medication on time and in the correct dosage. If one of these caretakers were to commit the crime of medicine theft, the patient may not know due to their medical condition affecting their memory. 

What To Do If Your Loved One is a Victim? 

There are a number of organizations that you can reach out to if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of medication theft in their nursing home. 

  • ENDHARM hotline: Report your concerns about an elderly or disabled person to the Department of Social and Health Services by calling 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276).
  • Adult Protective Services 

As always, if you or a loved one are a victim of medication theft, reach out to a local sheriff or emergency services by calling 911 to get immediate medical attention.