An unusual health care related criminal case is pending in Jacksonville, Florida. This is not a fraud case but one where patients were allegedly harmed or killed by a hospital employee who was addicted to drugs, diverted drugs meant for patients and when he injected patients with a saline solution — after having injected himself with the patients' drugs — he ended up injecting and infecting patients with his own Hepatitis C virus. On May 24, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida unsealed an indictment charging a radiology technician Steven Beumel, (48, Orange Park) with five counts of tampering with a consumer product, resulting in death or serious bodily injury, and five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. If convicted on all counts, Mr. Beumel faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. According to the indictment, Mr. Beumel was a radiology technician at Memorial Hospital from May 1992 through October 2004. Mr. Beumel also worked as a radiology technician at Mayo Clinic from October 2004 through August 2010. The indictment alleges that Mr. Beumel, before patients' procedures, diverted syringes of Fentanyl (a synthetic opiad) meant for patients and injected himself with the Fentanyl. Mr. Beumel has allegedly admitted to been addicted to Fentanyl. He then allegedly refilled the empty syringes with saline, but these syringes were now contaminated with his own Hepatitis C Virus. Mr. Beumel has contended that he did not know he had Hepatitis C Virus. According to the indictment, five different patients contracted Hepatitis C from Mr. Beumel. The indictment alleges that one patient died as a result from Mr. Beumel's tampering. An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. This case was a joint federal and state investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Administration, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Homicide Unit. In a statement released by Mayo, the hospital said it continues to extend its deepest condolences to family and friends of those killed or injured by the hepatitis C transmission. Mayo has strengthened security changes to control narcotics, and expanded the hospital's drug-screening panel for potential new hires. Commentary: This case is a reminder that health care providers need to be careful in screening employees, monitoring employees for signs of drug or alcohol addictions, psychological problems, personality disorders and other issues employees might have that could cause them to act out and hurt other employees or patients (intentionally or inadvertently). The liability that these hospitals could face for the alleged actions of this radiology technician are significant. For smaller providers, a rogue or drug addict employee could cost them their business if there is not sufficient insurance to cover such liabilities. Moreover, an employee with a drug or alcohol problem could pose a danger to patient safety. Health care providers need to monitor their employees and remember the great responsibility they have for patients' health. Diverting drugs is an all too common problem in hospitals and clinics. Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Please email Ms. Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 213-233-2260 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Ms. Green's office at Green and Associates is located at 801 South Figueroa Street #1200, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Any questions or comments should be directed to Tracy Green, a very experienced California health care fraud attorney and California Medicare fraud attorney at email@example.com. The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed health care providers and in health care fraud related matters in California and throughout the country. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/
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