Julie Watts Investigates

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In the midst of an opioid crisis, a new report on the misuse and theft of drugs by healthcare workers found more doctors are stealing prescription drugs.

The report found more than 47 million prescription doses were stolen last year. CBS13 has learned there were dozens of local cases last year of inappropriate prescribing and self-abuse of drugs by doctors.

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Lauren Lollini went into the hospital for a kidney surgery and left with Hepatitis-C and a liver infection — and she’s not alone.

“My life dramatically changed because now I am a 40-year-old woman with a one-year-old daughter who is so fatigued I can’t work,” Lollini said.

Technician Kristen Parker infected at least 19 patients by stealing syringes of their pain medication, injecting herself, then leaving the contaminated syringes for reuse. Parker is now serving 30 years in jail.

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“A system is broken,” Lollini said.

Medical workers stealing opioids is a growing problem according to a new report that found in 2018 more than 47 million doses of legally-prescribed opioids were stolen. An increase of 126% from the year before.

The report found 67% of the time doctors and nurses were responsible.

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Dr. Stephen Loyd was among the doctors addicted to opioids.

“Addiction has the same prevalence no matter what profession you are,” Lyod said.

Clean now for 15 years, he said it wasn’t hard to take his patients’ pills.

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“There was no requirements on what happened to those pills. They could go down the toilet. Or they could go in my pocket,” Lyod said.

CBS13 dug deeper into local doctors and found at least nine included in the report were right here in California, but researchers say that’s just the tip of the iceberg since most cases go unreported and there’s no standard nationwide reporting.

In fact, the medical board of California’s annual report doesn’t track doctors accused of stealing drugs but does show 40 disciplinary actions last year for inappropriate prescribing and another 59 for self-abuse of drugs.

The technician who infected Lollini was previously reported for stealing drugs at another hospital, but that information is protected laws, so patients would have no way of knowing.

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The justice department has rolled out a new opioid detection unit in just a few key areas of the country, including the eastern district of California, which covers the Sacramento area.