South Shore Health Employee Spots Counterfeit N95 Masks

Media Contact

Kristen Perfetuo
kperfetuo [at]

As Manager of Procurement, Value Analysis and Contracting for South Shore Health, James “Barry” O’Shaughnessy has the critical job of ordering, inspecting and keeping stock of much-needed equipment and supplies that protect the health system’s frontline workers and employees.

Recently, O’Shaughnessy’s 25 plus years of materials management experience helped him pinpoint a shipment of counterfeit N95 surgical masks delivered to the health system.

“I just knew that something wasn’t right,” said O’Shaughnessy. “The labels on the boxes were placed differently than other shipments. And the plastic bag inside the boxes had a strange seal. My gut told me something was off.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many health systems across the country struggled with dire shortages of high-quality masks for their healthcare workers. Reputable companies struggled to keep up with supply and demand.

Eager to replenish South Shore Health’s personal protective equipment (PPE), O’Shaughnessy placed an order for 30,000 N95 surgical masks from a New Jersey-based company. An agreement was made that South Shore Health would not pay for the masks until they received and reviewed the supplies. To be extra cautious, O’Shaughnessy proactively asked a 3M representative to help inspect the third-party masks that were not from a 3M authorized distributor. His instinct was right.

“While the masks looked exactly like a 3M N95, the packaging is what alerted me,” said O’Shaughnessy. “I sent 20-30 photos of the product to 3M and the representative confirmed my suspicion. The masks were counterfeit.”

Working with O’Shaughnessy and 3M, The Department of Homeland Security seized the masks and is currently investigating the incident.

“Barry’s deep experience and keen attention to detail helped protect thousands of South Shore Health employees from wearing counterfeit masks that would put them at risk,” said Allen Smith, MD, MS, President & CEO, South Shore Health.

“We are grateful for his ‘watchful eyes’ and dedication to the safety of our colleagues.”

“I’m just grateful we identified the problem with the help of 3M and the resources on their fraud website. Together, with the help of Homeland Security and 3M, we can stop this from happening to another hospital,” said O’Shaughnessy. “The health and safety of our caregivers and staff should never be compromised.”

In this video, Barry explains the indications that the masks were counterfeit.