AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

The record of this Georgia methadone clinic is even worse than the feds say

A methadone clinic that must pay $20,000 in a federal penalties has a long history of violating state rules, records show.

Federal officials accused Lanier Treatment Center of failing to keep track of its stock of controlled substances, running the risk that they would fall into the hands of drug addicts, according to a press statement released Tuesday by the Atlanta U.S. Attorney’s Office. While methadone is used to treat addictions to heroin and pain pills, dealers also sell it on the streets as a recreational drug.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found overages and shortages of the drugs in 2010 and 2013, according to the press release. Federal prosecutors also argue that the clinic failed to conduct proper inventory procedures. Lanier Treatment Center did not admit to allegations as part of the civil settlement.

Georgia inspectors found other problems, according to compliance reports. For instance, in 2013, an employee failed to use gloves when handling a urine sample, or wash his or her hands before picking up the next one. A client was allowed to enter the restroom to give a sample with all of his or her personal belongings. The group counseling space was actually a storage room filled with a hospital bed, gurney, exam chair, wheelchairs and a storage rack. Physicians did not give adequate supervision to patients.

In 2009, an inspector found that one clinic employee had a recent criminal history, and that the clinic failed to do a background check. It failed to ensure employees had proper training, or that patients received counseling.

You can find out more about violations at this and other methadone clinics at http://www.gamap2care.info/. Check under “Narcotics Treatment Programs,” which is the state’s term for this type of facility.

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