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Auditor Questions Sacramento Fire Department Narcotics Tracking System

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An audit has revealed the Sacramento fire department’s questionable system of tracking narcotics lead to more than 100 vials of morphine being reported missing.

While the department says it changed the system after it was revealed during the audit, the city’s auditor is calling for random drug testing.

City auditor Jorge Oseguera called the department’s tracking system into question after a discrepancy where the department’s inventory of morphine was off by 100 vials after someone entered a wrong number. 

“We identified some of those controls had unfortunately failed,” he said. “When this type of error occurs it should be detected immediately.”

That’s because all the paramedic had to do was simply count the vials.

“They weren’t actually counting the vials,” he said. “They were simply doing mathematical subtraction of how many they were distributing.”

Because of that system, the error wasn’t caught until nearly six months later. The auditor says it was only a clerical issue, but the mistake showed a weakness in the system.

The fire department says it’s already corrected the mistake.

“We took care of this issue several months ago,” said spokesman Roberto Padilla. “We changed the way we log our medications and it was handled accordingly.”

But because of the editor, Oseguera is suggesting the fire department begin random drug testing.

“To serve both as a mechanism to identify randomly drug use within the department and to serve as a deterrent,” he said.

The auditor did not find a drug-abuse problem within the department, and fire leaders do not appear ready to start doing such tests.

“We already have a policy in place that has to do with substance abuse,” Padilla said. “We’ve used it, we know it works.”

The fire department would only have to follow the auditor’s suggestions if the Sacramento City Council passes a new rule, but a drug test would need union approval.

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