Health Care

A Publix pharmacy worker estimates she stole over 2,800 meds, the health department says

A registered pharmacy technician at an Altamonte Springs Publix gave up her license Friday after, the Florida Department of Health says, she got caught stealing drugs from the pharmacy.

And the emergency suspension order (ESO) said that while Publix caught Kara Blankenship in June, she admitted she’s been stealing pills from Publix pharmacies for eight years.

“Ms. Blankenship estimated that, over the prior eight years, while working at various Publix Pharmacy locations, she had stolen approximately 2,850 tablets,” the ESO stated.

According to the Department of Health’s online records, the ESO came down July 25 and Blankenship proffered a “voluntary relinquishment pending board action” on Friday. She’d been a registered pharmacy technician since Dec. 2, 2009.

The ESO says a June 7 controlled substance internal audit at Blankenship’s Publix turned up a shortage of Tylenol with codeine No. 3, Tylenol with codeine No. 4, alprazolam (brand name: Xanax) and diazepam (brand name: Valium). The first two are used to treat pain; the latter two are used for anxiety.

A viewing of surveillance video by a Publix loss prevention officer, the ESO said, showed Blankenship pounding pills during her shift on Feb. 22, March 19, April 22, May 22 and June 4. Upon confrontation, Blankenship confessed and detailed her thievery in a written statement.

The statement, according to the ESO, said Blankenship started stealing hydrocodone tablets eight years earlier while working at another Publix “to cope with issues in her personal life.”

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.