Drug lab crisis report finds ‘failures’ at Hinton State

The state drug testing lab in Jamaica Plain was closed after former chemist Annie Dookhan was arrested for evidence tampering. (Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro)
The state drug testing lab in Jamaica Plain was closed after former chemist Annie Dookhan was arrested for evidence tampering. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

A new report by the state inspector general said a former state chemist who tampered with drug evidence samples was a “sole bad actor,” but that there were management failures at the lab.

Inspector General Glenn Cunha released the report on Tuesday. It comes after the 2012 shutdown of Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain, where chemist Annie Dookhan mishandled potentially tens of thousands of drug samples. Dookhan, who faced charges including obstruction of justice and falsely pretending to hold a degree, pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to between three and five years in jail.

While it faulted Dookhan as the “sole bad actor” at the lab, it also criticized the management there.

“The management failures of [Department of Public Health] lab directors contributed to Dookhan’s ability to commit her acts of malfeasance,” the report said. “The directors were ill-suited to oversee a forensic drug lab, provided almost no supervision, were habitually unresponsive to chemists’ complains and suspicions, and severely downplayed Dookhan’s major breach in chain-of-custody protocol upon discovering it.”

The report also said the lab lacked uniform protocols, allowing chemists to “create their own insufficient, discordant practices.” Additionally, training of chemists was “wholly inadequate” and the lab’s drug safe was vulnerable.

Besides criticisms, the report offered suggestions for improvements including employing practices to hold supervisors accountable for employees, urging the legislature to mandate that all state forensic labs be accredited and improving training for chemists.

A special attorney appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to review the potentially tainted cases said last year that about 40,000 cases were tied to Dookhan. Because Dookhan’s mishandling cast doubt on the convictions of some drug offenders, many were released while their cases were sorted out and the drug evidence was confirmed.

The drug lab crisis also led to the resignation of a top state health official.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…