Police: Tega Cay man used 5 aliases to get PMC prescription drugs

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJanuary 28, 2013 

— A Tega Cay man who once faced charges for reckless homicide was stopped from illegally getting prescription drugs at Piedmont Medical Center when hospital staff and police discovered he had used five different aliases to obtain drugs from the hospital within the last six years.

Police say Ronald Shannon Hough — who is charged with obtaining drugs by fraud, driving under suspension and as a habitual offender — gave hospital officials several names, birth dates and Social Security numbers to obtain prescriptions for pills since 2006, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

Around 9 a.m. Friday, police met with the hospital’s head nurse and Teresa O’Neill, the hospital’s emergency director, who both said Hough, 45, went to the hospital complaining of pain and asking for medication, the report states. The nurse recognized Hough from another emergency room visit where he used a different name to be admitted into the ER.

O’Neill and the nurse sifted through Hough’s medical history with the hospital and found that he had used five aliases on five visits to the hospital, where he was given “controlled substances,” the report states. Identifying people who play the system isn’t easy, said O’Neill, who added that people like Hough are “very smart,” “savvy” and often learn hospital staff’s shifts to avoid being recognized.

ER staff address a patient’s medical needs first, O’Neill said. The other parts, like a registration process that screens patients after they’ve been admitted to the ER, “are secondary.”

It’s not uncommon to find patients who falsify information, she said.

“It’s just a known entity we have to work with,” she said. “It’s unfortunate to say they’ve got the upper hand.”

The hospital can take some preventive measures, such as only providing patients with pills after they’ve been admitted into a hospital room and then writing a prescription that they have to pick up from a local pharmacy. Pharmacies, O’Neill said, share databases that track what drugs people buy, allowing them to notice patterns for possible drug addicts or “pushers.”

But Piedmont’s registration process, controlled by another company, doesn’t use photos or handprints to identify someone in the system like other hospitals, she said. It’s only when something unusual happens with a patient that officials can put two-and-two together.

That’s what happened with Hough, who had gone to the hospital recently, they say. O’Neill was unable to recall how many days had passed since Hough had gone to the hospital for pills before Friday.

While an officer spoke with hospital staff, Hough began to walk the halls of the ER to try to overhear the conversation, police said. Officers found Hough in the parking lot walking to his 2007 Ford Focus after he left his hospital room. He said he was going to get his debit card, which officers found in his pocket while searching him.

Police placed Hough under arrest and took him to jail. He told officers he drove his own car, although his criminal history shows his license had been suspended.

Hough, who lives at 24016 Tidal Way Drive, Apt. B, left jail on Friday after posting a $9,000 bond.

Hough’s criminal history dates back to 1995 when he was charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury after S.C. Highway Patrol officials said he drove a pickup truck on the wrong side of Interstate 77 and collided with an oncoming car.

The crash killed the car’s 28-year-old driver, a Gastonia, N.C., man who died at the scene, and his passenger, a 34-year-old Lake Wylie woman who later died in a hospital.

After undergoing surgery for injuries he suffered in the crash, Hough was arrested and released on a $50,000 bond. He never went to trial for his charges because for five years he had failed to show up for roll calls or court appearances, said Deputy 16th Circuit Solicitor Willy Thompson. According to court records, a judge issued a bench warrant for Hough.

He was finally found in 2000 when then-prosecutor Phil Smith indicted him on two counts of reckless homicide. Three years later, he was released from his bench warrant because officials had no record showing a chain of custody in Hough’s blood samples when they were taken at a Charlotte hospital and prosecutors had trouble finding at least two eyewitnesses who saw Hough drive on the wrong side of the interstate, Thompson said.

Now the solicitor’s office will look at the case and determine whether it can prosecute Hough, Thompson said, adding that he would have to be tried under the law as it was in 1995 when he was originally charged.

Officials would need to track down the same eyewitnesses and first responders who extricated Hough from his car to prove there ever was an accident, Thompson said.

“It’s problematic,” he said, because “cases that get older don’t get better.”

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service