Victims' relatives question why Memorial Hospital never reported technician to Mayo Clinic

Former radiology technician sentenced to 30 years in prison

JACKSONVILE, Fla. - Family members are wondering why a former employer never reported Steven Beumel's drug habits before the former radiology technician took a job at Mayo Clinic.

On Monday, a judge sentenced Beumel to 30 years in prison after he apologized to victims for infecting them with Hepatitis C.

After the hearing, some of the victims' relatives questioned how Beumel was able to slip through the cracks after the judge revealed he had been disciplined for similar behavior before while working at Memorial Hospital.

Bonnie Ramsey, whose father died after contracting Hepatitis C at Mayo Clinic, is advocating for change within the medical field. She's frustrated Beumel admittedly infected her dad by stealing his pain medication during a procedure, swapping it with a contaminated needle.

"I have mixed feelings about the situation," Ramsey said. "I place more of a blame on the system, and it's not necessarily a (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) law as it is a reporting law."

Ramsey is concerned because another hospital had caught Beumel before. At his sentencing in federal court, the judge pointed out that while Beumel worked at Memorial Hospital, it sent him to a drug rehab program -- information that wasn't passed along to his next employer.

"I believe that if somebody is stealing medication and you're a health care provider, or worker and you're stealing medication from patients, then that should be a reportable issue to the next hospital that you apply for," Ramsey said.

The judge recognized that in 2004, Memorial Hospital found Beumel trying to steal pain meds out of needles in a trash can. The hospital suspended him from work, never notifying the state he failed a drug test.

"There are many employers who choose to disclose nothing, and they are privileged within the law to do that. But I don't think that's the right course," said attorney Frank Ashton, who represented Mayo Clinic patients. "I think the right course is, you have an obligation to tell people, to tell future employers and to protect the patients by doing that."

Ashton couldn't speak specifically about this case, but he believes the reporting rules may need to be modified as it's applied to criminal behavior.

"I think it would be very helpful if the law were changed so that it mandated a hospital reporting that information to another hospital, but that's not the current state of the law," he said.

Memorial Hospital issued this statement on Beumel's history:

"Once discovered, we immediately: took disciplinary and corrective actions, ensured the proper entities were notified and ensured Beumel satisfied all Department of Health requirements. When he left Memorial, he was certified according to state standards as being able to practice his profession and no further reporting was appropriate."

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.