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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced a plan to fight prescription drug thefts in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The plan is one of several initiatives in Ohio designed to reduce prescription drug abuse, which has caused a record number of accidental overdose deaths in the state, according to the Canton Repository.

DeWine said his office is offering investigative assistance to every nursing home, assisted living agency and residential care facility in the state. He said there have been many cases of employees stealing prescription drugs to use themselves or to give to loved ones, or to sell on the streets.

“Every time this happens a real patient is deprived of the medication they need to get well,” DeWine said in a news release. “Our law enforcement officers have been aggressively shutting down ‘pill mills’ across the state, but now addicts may turn to care facilities to feed their dependence. We want to remind those who work in these licensed care facilities that they have the mandatory duty, as required by law, to report suspicions of abuse, neglect or drug diversion.”

He cited several cases, including a nursing assistant who was convicted of stealing pain patches from a 71-year-old man suffering from several severe medical conditions, and a nurse who was convicted of stealing Percocet and oxycodone pills and replacing them with Tylenol and Zofran tablets.

In May, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced new guidelines to fight prescription drug abuse, which aim to restrict painkiller prescriptions written in hospital emergency rooms. The voluntary guidelines aim to prevent patients from coming to the emergency room repeatedly to get prescriptions for the same injuries. They discourage longer-term prescriptions for opioids such as OxyContin and methadone, and routine replacement of prescriptions that patients claim have been lost or destroyed.

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