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WA drug theft spike explained

The dramatic increase in reported drug theft from West Australian hospitals may not be as bad as it sounds.

The annual report of the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) recently revealed that 462 health-related complaints were received over the past year, compared to 176 in 2010/2011.

But according to WA Health director general Kim Snowball, this figure doesn’t translate to a rise in suspected misconduct.

“Since May 2011, in line with a direction from the Corruption and Crime Commission, WA Health has reported to the CCC all unexplained losses of Schedule 8 and restricted Schedule 4 medicines,” he said.

“The increase in the total number of allegations was to be expected and reflects WA Health’s compliance with this direction.”

Reports of unexplained medication losses often relate to small amounts, with half being for losses of two tablets/2ml or less.

WA Health’s storage of pharmaceuticals and controls over their administration to patients was found to be safe and secure in a report released by the Auditor General earlier this year.

“WA Health takes its obligation to manage suspected misconduct of our staff and the risk of the loss, diversion or theft of drugs of addiction very seriously,” said Snowball. “WA Health examines each matter to determine if there is a reasonable suspicion of a staff member being involved.”

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