STA, 25 February 2019 - A nurse from the UKC Maribor hospital is being investigated for forging more than 200 prescriptions for medicines in high demand on the black market. She and a male accomplice are suspected of defrauding the national healthcare insurer ZZZS from 3,000-5,000 euros.
The Maribor criminal police assistant chief, Andrej Kolbl, told the press on Monday that a healthcare worker and an accomplice had been temporarily detained while the police searched six houses, commercial offices and cars on Friday.
The pair is suspected of fraud, a crime that carries a three year sentence, but the investigation will also look into other potentially criminal activities such as illicit sale of medicines, and the reason for the crime.
The police will also investigate whether any other persons were involved in the scheme.
The suspect allegedly forged more than 200 prescriptions since 2017, using the green-coded prescription pads used to prescribe medicines fully or almost fully funded by the ZZZS.
The suspect had made the prescriptions out to herself and the accomplice, forging the signatures of some 20 doctors in the process.
More than 600 cartons of Sanval, Zaldiar, Lexaurin and Doreta have been issued by several pharmacies based on the prescriptions.
Kolbl said these medicines, which are mostly tranquillizers or insomnia drugs, were in high demand in particular among drug addicts.
It was a pharmacist who had suspected the signature on one prescription did not belong to the doctor who had issued it, explained Roman Košir, UKC Maribor's emergency unit head, who spoke to the press later in the day.
The pharmacist also realised the person to whom the prescription had been issued, received very large amounts of tranquillizers, and notified the doctor in question.
Košir explained UKC Maribor had been notified of the suspicious activity a week ago by the community centre for which the doctor worked.
They had checked with several doctors to establish the signature on the prescriptions were not theirs, and reported the case to the police.
The nurse had mostly forged signatures of doctors from the community centre who regularly helped at the emergency unit, according to Košir.
He also explained it was not unusual for a nurse to have access to prescription pads or stamps.
"This is how we do things. Doctors, nurses, prescriptions, stamps are available at any moment due to the very nature of the work process."
Košir said the nurse had worked for the emergency unit for more than two years and the procedure to dismiss her had already been launched.
He said UKC Maribor was not harmed financially by the wrongdoing, as prescription drugs are paid by the national health care insurer.
It is yet to be established how much the two suspects have gained from the illegal activity.