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Fire Department Prescribes Investigation into Expired Medications

Probe follows other examinations into questionable practices and missteps.

By Patrick Rehkamp/BGA

August 7, 2012 11:05 AM

An internal Chicago Fire Department investigation of over 100 emergency vehicles is underway, sparked by the recent discovery of a drug kit containing expired medicines found on a fire engine used for paramedic calls, the Better Government Association has learned.

Fire Department Prescribes Investigation into Expired MedicationsThis probe comes on the heels of several other investigations into questionable practices, including one reported by the BGA and CBS2.

"The Chicago Fire Department is investigating a case involving a Paramedic Equipped Engine and the assigned medical supplies," spokesman Larry Langford wrote in an email to the BGA. "It is the policy of the Department to ensure that all of our medical supplies are held in accordance with prescribed shelf life limits and based on the allegations we are re-examining our system to see if revisions are needed and if so, they will be implemented."

The BGA learned that about a month ago numerous expired medications were discovered in a fire engine at station at 110th Street and Homewood Avenue. The drug boxes, which are similar in appearance to a toolbox, carry about 15 kinds of medications used by emergency personnel for lifesaving purposes.

According to Langford the drugs are used for "a wide variety of needs that could occur in an emergency medical situation involving illness or injury."

Lately, the fire department has come under scrutiny for other missteps.

The BGA and CBS2 recently reported that a man was taken to the wrong hospital for a stab wound and WBBM-AM radio reported a fire department paramedic allegedly falsified documents after not picking up a man who died later that day.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General released a report detailing how CFD employees were padding mileage expense reports for extra cash for years.

This story was written and reported by BGA Senior Investigator Patrick Rehkamp. He can be reached at prehkamp@bettergov.org or (312) 386-9201.

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