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Medical Center Deals with Fallout After Hiring Formerly-Suspended Pharmacist

Credential Sentry's Communication Team4/28/2022
Medical Center Deals with Fallout After Hiring Formerly-Suspended Pharmacist Credential Sentry Professional And Occupational Licencse Check.jpg

As reported by the Press of Atlantic City, a medical center in southern New Jersey grappled with the fallout and medical repercussions stemming from the unprofessional and hazardous actions of a pharmacist who was caught tampering with the pharmacy's drugs and diverting drugs for personal consumption.

Negligent Hiring in Healthcare: The Case of Frederick McLeish

The pharmacist in question, Frederick McLeish, 53 years of age, had twice been subject to a suspension of his pharmacist license prior to working for that particular medical center in New Jersey. In the most recent instance of malpractice, while working at the medical center in New Jersey, McLeish diverted drugs, including morphine and fentanyl, for his own use without a valid prescription. McLeish was also found to have replaced morphine destined for patient use with saline solution. Not only did his actions pose a grave risk to himself, but he could have caused medical complications for patients as well.

This was the third time that McLeish had been found to have conducted himself in such a way that resulted in disciplinary action.

Additionally, aside from his two noted suspensions in New Jersey, the public records from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania showed that McLeish had had his license suspended a total of six times in 30 years.

It was observed that in 1994, McLeish was initially subject to a 4-year suspension that was later stayed, and then in 2002, McLeish was suspended for illegally stealing hydromorphone, amongst other drugs, from his employer's stockpile.

McLeish did attend a patient drug rehabilitation facility in 1986. At the time, his license was suspended for the first out of the 6 times that he would receive disciplinary sanction. This information is noteworthy and raises several questions, including how McLeish continued to work as a pharmacist and to what extent the New Jersey medical center was aware of McLeish's past.

The press also obtained information from the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy, which questioned how McLeish was able to find work and thus continue his risky and unprofessional behavior at successive medical institutions. According to the Board, McLeish was eligible for subsequent employment as long as he could demonstrate sobriety.

Validating a Healthcare Professional's License is Critical

Whatever legal guidance state or federal authorities provide, McLeish's situation and actions could have been avoided if his subsequent employers had taken notice of his prior infractions, even those occurring in a different state.

Credentialing or conducting a quick credential search would have saved this medical center (and several previous employers) from potential patient harm, legal risk, and reputational damage associated with having to notify those patients harmed by McLeish's unprofessional conduct.

As part of the fallout, the New Jersey medical center had to notify 213 patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B and/or Hepatitis C. The legal backlash may continue for McLeish for some time, and the New Jersey medical center may want to revisit its credentialing guidelines after this incident. No licensed professional, in whom many place a great deal of trust and confidence, should expose patients and clients to harm on account of unprofessional behavior. And employers should be aware of a professional’s work history to ensure that they do not facilitate unprofessional behavior.

Proactively Protect Your Organization with Automated Credentialing

Employers may face legal liability and reputational risk as a result of insufficient due diligence in personnel matters. Numerous lawsuits, particularly against employers of professionally licensed individuals, are based on negligent hiring and retention. In this particular case involving McLeish, the blame for exposing patients to risk fell not only on McLeish, but also on his employer, the New Jersey medical center, which failed to provide adequate and accurate medical credentialing, which could have protected the center's patients from harm and also protected the center from media and legal fallout.

The compliance solution from Credential Sentry will not only help you validate occupational and professional licenses, but it will also protect you from future negligent hiring or negligent retention claims, as well as prevent you from hiring incompetent medical personnel.

A simple and fully automated online license lookup platform will save you time and money, as well as the headache of a potential lawsuit. Credential Sentry provides a quick, convenient, and cost-effective solution for automatically verifying medical credentials and conducting routine license checks on the medical personnel in your database. This enables you to ensure that your organization is always in compliance, allowing you to focus on what matters most: providing high-quality patient care.

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