Health system pays to settle U.S. claim of violations of act

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A Virginia-based hospital system has agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle claims that it committed multiple violations of the Controlled Substances Act between 2017 and 2020, according to officials.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said in a news release on Wednesday that Sovah Health also agreed to four years of increased compliance and oversight during which any failure to comply may lead to contempt of court findings that could result in additional monetary penalties and injunctive relief.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the settlement was the third largest civil penalty ever secured from a hospital system under the act and the largest ever in the Fourth Circuit.

The claims centered on Sovah Health’s failure to have effective controls in place to prevent diversion of powerful painkilling prescription opioids, the news release said. From 2017 to 2019, a Sovah Health employee diverted more than 11,000 Schedule II controlled substances from Sovah Health.

From January to May 2020, a second Sovah Health worker tampered with Fentanyl vials and hydromorphone injectables by replacing the controlled substance with saline and diverting the controlled substance, officials said.

Sovah Health has campuses in Danville and Martinsville, which united to form the system in 2017.

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