Propofol abuse among healthcare workers: an analysis of criminal cases using the database of the Supreme Court of South Korea’s judgments

Hye Yeon Cho, Yoonbin Hwang, Suhwan Shin, Susie Yoon, Ho Jin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Due to its abuse potential, propofol has been classified as a controlled substance since February 2011 in South Korea. Healthcare workers are exposed to propofol abuse considering their easy access to this substance in hospitals. Therefore, we aimed to investigate propofol abuse among healthcare workers through the database of the Supreme Court in South Korea. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed adjudicated criminal cases related to propofol abuse among healthcare workers from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2020, using the database of the Supreme Court of South Korea’s judgments. We collected the clinical characteristics and punishment-related information of healthcare workers who abused propofol. Results: Of the 194 cases collected using the search term ‘propofol,’ 20 were included in the final analysis. The most common healthcare workers who abused propofol were nursing aides (n = 15). Among them, 40% (n = 8) of the defendants had previously been punished for substance abuse, and 35% (n = 7) had a history of psychological disease. Of the defendants, 65% (n = 13) self-administered propofol more than twice, and the median number of self-administrations was three. Except for two, the defendants were sentenced to imprisonment, including suspended sentences, and the median values of their duration of prison and probation were 9 months and 24 months. Conclusions: Despite propofol being strongly regulated as a controlled substance in South Korea, its abuse among healthcare workers remains. Healthcare workers should be vigilant against its abuse among themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-396
Number of pages6
JournalKorean journal of anesthesiology
Volume75
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Criminals
  • Health personnel
  • Illicit drugs
  • Intravenous administration
  • Legislation and jurisprudence
  • Propofol
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • Substance-related disorders

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