Nurse Admits to Stealing Morphine from Nursing Home Patients

A nurse admitted last week to diluting morphine solutions at a nursing home. The plea deal could send her to prison for three years, according to federal prosecutors. The 25-year-old nurse also must surrender her nursing license and never work in the health care industry again.

In her plea agreement, the nurse admitted that with “reckless disregard and extreme indifference” to the risks for patients she put sodium chloride into solutions of morphine sulfate, reducing the painkiller’s quality and strength. Sodium chloride is dangerous to some patients, particularly those with certain heart conditions.

According to the indictment, the nurse was fired in May 2009 from another medical facility for stealing the painkiller Percocet from the hospital’s drug supply. Three months later, she was hired at the nursing home as charge nurse. She had the keys and access to the narcotics cabinet.

She admitted that she would take syringes filled with morphine from medicine vials and replace it with sodium chloride to hide the thefts. She would then remove the metal caps from the vials so it looked like the caps were defective. Prosecutors say she would take the morphine-filled syringes home and inject the drug.

The director of nursing discovered that several vials had their caps removed when she was preparing an injection for a patient last February. The charge nurse tested positive for opiates after a drug test. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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