In an unusual move, the FBI is reaching out publicly to patients who were prescribed the powerful narcotic medication Subsys, which federal agents allege was improperly dispensed by practitioners across the country, including a nurse in Derby. In a posting on its Victim Assistance Program website, the FBI asks people who were prescribed Subsys between March 2012 and December 2016 to complete a brief questionnaire that will assist in a federal probe of Insys Therapeutics, the company that makes Subsys. The appeal follows the indictments in December of six top executives and managers of Insys on charges they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and nurses to prescribe Subsys, which is approved for treating cancer patients suffering episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer, the indictments allege. One of the practitioners named in the indictments is Heather Alfonso, formerly an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby. She has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Insys through a sham “speakers’ program,” in exchange for prescribing Subsys.
Nearly half of Connecticut hospitals – 14 out of 31 – will lose a portion of their Medicare payments in 2017 as a penalty for having too many patients who acquired preventable infections and injuries while hospitalized. The hospitals are among 769 nationwide that will lose one percent of their Medicare reimbursements this year as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program. The CMS program, now in its third year, penalizes the lowest-performing hospitals where a relatively high number of patients got infections from hysterectomies, colon surgeries, urinary tract catheters and central line tubes. It also takes into account patients who suffered from blood clots, bed sores or falls while hospitalized. New this year, CMS also factored in the incidents where antibiotic-resistant bacteria – namely, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C.
The state Department of Public Health has fined five nursing homes for various violations, including two in which residents went missing. Blair Manor in Enfield was fined $3,000 after a resident with dementia and neurocognitive disorder left the facility. Staff noticed the resident was missing around 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2016. According to the Department of Public Health (DPH) citation, earlier that day five staff members separately witnessed the resident saying he was going to leave the facility and packing his belongings, but none reported it to their supervisors.
When Clinton resident Austin Haughwout uploaded YouTube videos of his pistol and flamethrower-equipped drones last year, he triggered a national debate over the use of weaponized drones that is expected to result in new state legislation. Eight states, including Vermont and Maine, now have laws prohibiting or limiting the weaponization of drones, and Connecticut is expected to take up a similar ban in the next legislative session. A proposal in Connecticut to make it a felony to carry a weapon or an explosive in a drone was approved by the House during the 2016 legislative session, but the Senate failed to take action. “Hopefully, next year, we will get the legislation across the finish line,” said Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee. Nationally, there were 632,068 drones registered as of December, according to Alison Duquette, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The state Board of Examiners for Nursing disciplined six nurses this week, including several cases of nurses who abused drugs or alcohol. On Wednesday, the board revoked the license of Michelle Murphy, a registered nurse from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, for violating an earlier probation by not submitting drug test results to the state Department of Public Health, records show. In April, the board had placed her on probation for two years based on findings that she took the painkillers fentanyl and Dilaudid for her own use and abused controlled substances to excess, records show. The board also revoked the license of licensed practical nurse Adam Burr of New Britain, who was intoxicated while working for PSA Healthcare of Plainville doing care in a patient’s home, state records show. The board found that Burr’s abuse of alcohol and an emotional disorder or mental illness he has suffered from since 2013 were affecting his ability to practice nursing.
Six top pharmaceutical executives and managers, formerly employed by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., were arrested Thursday on charges that they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners, including a nurse at a pain clinic in Derby. In a sweeping indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, federal prosecutors charged the former CEO and president of the Arizona-based company, Michael Babich, two former vice presidents, and three other managers with paying kickbacks to practitioners in several states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication. The medication, Subsys, is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer, the indictment says. Prosecutors also allege that the former executives conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers, who were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients. One of the 10 practitioners referenced in the indictment is Heather Alfonso, formerly an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, who has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Insys, through a sham “speakers’ program,” in exchange for prescribing Subsys.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has fined four nursing homes for various violations, most of which resulted in injuries to residents. Groton Regency Center was fined $2,260 for two incidents that happened in September. On Sept. 12, two staff members reported that a nurse’s aide was seen swearing and pointing a finger at a resident, according to the department’s citation. The resident, who had severe cognitive impairments and suffered from vascular dementia and anxiety, seemed upset and scared at the time, according to the citation, but later could not recall the incident.
The Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined four nurses, including three for their abuse of alcohol or drugs. The board suspended the registered nursing license of Lori Riley of Sharon after finding that she posed a clear and immediate danger to the public. Records show that in 2015, while working for All About You Homecare in Torrington, she took Percocet meant for a patient, replaced it with Tylenol and falsified the patient’s medical record. From 2014 to 2016, Riley abused Percocet, Oxycodone and Vicodin, records show. This past January, she signed a plan to enter a confidential rehabilitation program, but records show she failed to comply with the program or begin outpatient treatment for substance abuse.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday revoked the medical license of a Bristol doctor who had inappropriate sexual conduct with female patients while working in Maine. Also, the board rejected a consent order that would have reprimanded and fined Dr. David Burchenal of Stonington $3,000 for failing to provide adequate follow-up care for a patient who later died of cancer. Some members said they wanted a stiffer penalty. “This is nothing,’’ board member Dr. Robert Green said of the fine. “A man died.”
The Bristol doctor, Mohammad Aljanaby, will lose his license for engaging in inappropriate physical or sexual conduct with female patients while working as a doctor at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Waterville, Maine in 2012.
Connecticut hospitals reported increases in patient deaths or serious injuries due to falls and medication errors in 2015 compared to 2014, but an overall drop in “adverse events,” according to a new state report. The report, by the Department of Public Health (DPH), shows that the total number of medical errors dipped by 3 percent – from 472 in 2014, to 456 in 2015. There were 90 instances when patients died or were seriously injured in falls, up from 78 in 2014. Seven falls that resulted in injury or death were reported at Yale New Haven Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and UConn’s John Dempsey Hospital.