London

Here's how many drugs went missing at LHSC in the last 3 years

The number of cases of controlled substances going missing has been relatively steady in the last three years, numbers obtained by CBC show.

Some say Canadian hospitals are not doing enough to prevent hospital drug thefts

So far in 2019 there have been seven cases of controlled substances going missing from the London Health Sciences Centre. (U.S. Department of Defense)

The number of cases of controlled substances going missing from the London region's largest hospital network has been relatively steady in the last three years, according to data obtained by CBC London.

There were five cases of controlled substances that disappeared from the hospital in the fiscal year ending in March 2017 and five more in the fiscal year ending March 2018. 

But this year, the number of substances unaccounted for increased.

LHSC said there were seven cases of controlled substances missing in the fiscal that ended March 2019.

The data was obtained by CBC London through a freedom of information request. 

LHSC records show seven of the documented cases over the course of three years involved opioids, including one theft by an employee in 2017. 

Any narcotic going missing is a concern for our organization- Neil Johnson, LHSC Vice President

"Given the size of our organization, our numbers are not high, but we don't want any to go missing. In the big picture, though, it's a relatively low number," hospital VP Neil Johnson said. 

The problem of drugs going missing in hospitals is not new, nor is it unique to London. 

Every year, hundreds of thousands of controlled drugs (mostly opioids) that were supposed to end up on pharmacy shelves are reported missing to Health Canada — and that number is on the rise. Vik Adhopia explains what might be going on. 1:48

The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently looked at the amount of controlled substances going missing in the last four years in hospitals across Canada. 

More than 3,000 incidents, between early 2015 and early 2019, involved stolen or lost controlled substances, mostly opioids. 

The majority were deemed "unexplained," while six per cent were classified as theft by an employee. 

"In the same way that hospitals approach the reporting of medical errors, we need to develop a culture of reporting missing medication, a culture of being open and transparent, and that's somewhere that health professionals need to move towards in terms of drug diversion," said Doug Doucette, the president of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists. 

LHSC by the numbers

  • 2017: 5 cases of missing drugs, including 1 theft by employee
  • 2018: 5 cases of missing drugs
  • 2019: 7 cases of missing drugs

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.