Effingham Health Systems is going to pay the federal government more than four million dollars to resolve allegations that they did not do enough to insure highly addictive drugs were protected from being stolen.
It's the largest settlement of its kind in the country.
The DEA launched an investigation last year and found tens of thousands of oxycodone pills were missing and were thought to have been diverted in a four year period.
That's a violation of the Controlled Substances act as is the hospital's failure to report the theft to the DEA in the required time period.
An official with the DEA said "Hospitals put lives at risk when they fail to maintain accurate recordkeeping of their inventory. Such careless behavior allows for substances to be diverted and sold on the black market with no true measure of accountability. This record-setting civil penalty is a proactive step that DEA Diversion and our partners in the U.S. Attorney's Office can take to discourage other healthcare providers from engaging in such reckless behavior."
The hospital cooperated with the DEA investigation and has worked with that agency and the U.S. Attorney's office to come up with systems that would prevent any drug diversions in the future. Parts of that plan include quarterly internal audits, requirements that they track all controlled substances within the hospital.