Ambulance Victoria was convicted and fined $400,000 yesterday for failing to adequately record and store stocks of morphine and fentanyl, following an investigation into the death of a paramedic at Heywood near Portland, in 2015.
The organisation pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act: one charge of failing to provide a safe working environment and one charge of failing to ensure that volunteer officers were not exposed to risks.
It was fined $200,000 on each charge in the Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court.
The paramedic was the team manager with 30 years’ experience, and the only employee working at the station, when he was found dead in January 2015.
The Court heard that both fentanyl and morphine were found in his system, and that the cause of death was mixed drug toxicity.
The Court heard that Ambulance Victoria had exposed the paramedic and volunteer officers at the station to risks to their health and safety by failing to minimise the potential for illicit access to morphine and fentanyl.
It was told that systems and registers were in place to record the receipt, movement, administration and disposal of the strong painkillers, and these were audited by the team manager. Checks on these audits by an area manager were supposed to be carried out every three months, but were not being conducted at the required frequency.
The Court was told that as a result of the incident, Ambulance Victoria had made a number of changes to the management of its drug stocks, including the implementation of a regular check of records to identify unusual ordering or administration patterns for morphine and fentanyl.
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