Hospital employee charged with theft after medications turn up missing from pharmacy

From Staff Reports

   An employee of Sycamore Shoals Hospital was arrested by Elizabethton Police Department officers on Sunday and charged with theft over $1,000 in connection with drugs that were found missing from the hospital's pharmacy.
   Robert Bess, Jr., 40, 128 Meadows Drive, has been charged with taking Demerol and morphine sulfate from the hospital's pharmacy.
   According to reports, the medication had been taken over a period of seven weeks. Hospital officials reported to police that seven 100 mg doses of Demerol, one 500 mg dose of Demerol and two 10 mg doses of morphine sulfate were missing.
   Sycamore Shoals Hospital has a prescription distribution system in place that requires that persons dispensing medication to patients sign in with a password and their fingerprint in order to obtain the medication. The system was used to develop Bess as a suspect, according to reports.
   The director of the pharmacy at the hospital told officers that 10 of the transactions required an "override" on the system because the transactions requested more medication than was ordered for a particular patient. Hospital officials also reported that medical records showed that none of the medication that was taken was administered to the patients they were withdrawn for.
   Hospital officials reported to officers that the supervisor on duty had confronted Bess about the missing medications. She reported that after the confrontation, Bess stated that he was going to the vending machines and never returned.
   A check of the hospital computer system revealed that Bess had attempted to find information on a hotel in Clarksville and the price of airline tickets, according to reports.
   Reports state that a search of Bess's vehicle and his residence turned up some of the medication which was reported missing.
   Bess had been investigated by the United States Army on charges of stealing medication, wrongful possession of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances, dereliction in the performance of his duties and other charges.