Boston paramedic accused of drug tampering
BOSTON (WHDH) -- State health officials said an EMS worker tampered with vials of drugs and dozens of people may have been affected.
“It’s shocking. I haven’t heard anything like that,” Colleen Hardway, a concerned resident.
Health officials confirmed a city paramedic with Boston Emergency Medical Services is off the job for allegedly tampering with vials of painkillers. The paramedic is accused of tampering with powerful drugs like fentinol and morphine.
“I think there definitely needs to be better background checks, for sure, and better procedures when they’re hiring these people,” said Hardway.
The Boston Public Health Commission has notified 57 patients that they may have received compromised medications during EMS treatment. They initially identified 64 patients, but seven died for reasons related to their medical event or initial injury.
"It's particularly terrible because when you have health care professionals that are entrusted to help save people's lives potentially cause harm to some people, everyone is devastated," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Boston Public Health Commission.
Officials are focusing on a six-week period during the summer of 2011. Medications were sent for testing at the recently shut down state lab where chemist Annie Dookhan has been arrested for tampering with drug samples. But health officials don’t believe she handled the EMS samples.
“We have no reason to believe that they are tainted by what was happening at the state lab,” Dr. Ferrer said.
Health officials are not aware of this paramedic having any infectious disease. They want the public tested in an abundance of caution. Free screenings for infectious diseases is available and established an incident hotline.
“This is something that’s never happened before for all the years we’ve had the EMS service. One individual doesn’t ruin a service. The EMS service in Boston is probably the best service in the country,” said Mayor Thomas Menino.
City health officials won’t release the paramedic’s name, but they did confirm Boston police are conducting a criminal investigation. So far no charges have been filed.