Fla. Chief: Drug Tracking System Would Have Found Theft

Aug. 14--STUART -- A vigilant Martin County Fire Rescue worker enabled the department to quickly identify a firefighter paramedic who allegedly stole a pain medication from an ambulance and injected himself while on-duty.

A Sheriff's deputy arrested Anthony Joseph Soldano, who has since resigned his position, on July 20 after a co-worker discovered a syringe, a partially used vial of hydromorphone and a tourniquet in his shower bag.

But even if the theft was not immediately noticed, the department medical supervisors would have caught it within two weeks because of the strict security procedures in place, said Fire Chief Joe Ferrara. The incident shows the importance of documenting potentially addictive medicines from the time they are delivered to the department until the time they are disposed of.

An audit showed the fire-medic's entry on the ambulance's narcotics log indicated the administration of hydromorphone to a patient, Ferrara said. The patient report showed no need for pain medication.

"Going back and looking in our documentation, there was an inconsistency in how he logged it, which would have triggered our suspicion anyway," Ferrara said. "There was fraudulent activity there. That would triggered the question-answer process. It would have been caught regardless."

The documentation of pain medications is not as strict in the Stuart Fire Rescue Department and some current and former workers are concerned about it.

With Martin Fire Rescue, the medical supervisors audit the narcotics logs every week or two, Ferrara said. Log entries for pain medications are scrutinized because the drugs are not administered to emergency patients every day.

Copyright 2014 - Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.

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