RISK Alert Man Poses as Surgeon to Steal Drugs in Tennessee -Case Study #716

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Dateline:  May 31, 2015

Hamilton County Corrections Officer, Dressed as a Doctor, Walks into Three Chattanooga, Tennessee  Hospitals, Defeats Security at each Hospital,  Breaks Open Drug Cabinets to get Narcotics

Dressed as a surgeon, Ryan Epperson, a 26-year old Corrections Officer at Hamilton County, bypassed security controls at all three downtown Chattanooga hospitals including Parkridge Medical Center, Erlanger and CHI Memorial.  A nurse at one hospital noticed that the medical cabinet had been broken open, and a number of powerful painkillers were missing, including 10 syringes of morphine, six vials of Demerol and five doses of fentanyl.

Footage from a security camera near a radiology lab, gave Chattanooga Police a photo of
Epperson, who was seen walking toward one of the labs.  Epperson was easily recognized because he ran for county office last year!

Epperson had apparently frequently stolen drugs from medication dispensaries, which he smashed, at Erlanger, Parkridge Medical Center and CHI Memorial hospitals, as well as possibly from crash
carts. 

After being identified by camera footage, Epperson was arrested last Wednesday on multiple drug, vandalism, trespassing and impersonation charges after  an Erlanger security officer noticed him walking through a surgery suite without a name badge a requirement for all physicians and hospital personnel, according to Erlanger management.  Specific charges included six counts of possessing drugs for resale, two counts of vandalism, two counts of theft and one count each of criminal trespassing and impersonating a licensed professional.

“Epperson admitted that he had an addiction problem and was trying to feed that addiction,” his arrest report states. Large quantities of narcotics were found in Epperson’s Ford Fusion and at his home, police reported.

Lessons Learned

1.   Name badges worn visibly above the waist are a valuable control.  Lack of a
legitimate badge led to Epperson’s arrest.

2.   Camera footage should be checked daily, at a minimum, to be able to take
advantage of crime footage that may exist, and which also assisted police.

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About Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton

Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton is a leading expert in assessing security risk in both information security and facilities security including security risk assessments, active shooter and security risk assessments for hospitals and healthcare organizations, cybersecurity, nuclear security, and also auditing, analyzing and measuring compliance with all major security standards, like DHS, FEMA 426-428, The Joint Commission, HIPAA Security & Privacy Rules, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, and OSHA 3148 for Preventing Workplace Violence. And including both C-TPAT and CFATS. She is currently working on a universal set of easy security tools that will make it easy to assess risk in a variety of companies, agencies and business. Her company, Risk & Security LLC, works with more than 500 clients around the world using a program that standardizes site surveys and assessments and makes it easier to compare facilities and measure their level of security. She posts breaking security & risk alerts at www.twitter.com/riskalert. She's also an animal lover and tree hugger, and musician who loves dogs, horses, kitties, house rabbits, parrots, and especially beagles! I support www.brewbeagles.org and other animal rescue organizations and work toward a more peaceful and green world.

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