SNF nurse admits to stealing morphine, drug tampering

A Kansas nursing home employee admitted this week as part of a plea deal that she had diluted her employer’s morphine solutions after stealing the painkiller for her drug addiction, the Associated Press reported.

“Melanie Morrison pleaded guilty in federal court in Topeka to one count of consumer product tampering and one count of adulteration of a drug in a case involving drug thefts in February at the Holiday Resort Nursing Facility in Salina,” the Associated Press reported. “The 25-year-old nurse also agreed to permanently surrender her nursing license and never work in the health care industry again.”

According to the AP report, Morrison is expected to face a three-year prison sentence, although she may be released early upon successful completion of an addiction treatment program.

Morrison admitted to diluting the morphine with sodium chloride, which can be used to dilute other medications in a nebulizer, but can also have dangerous side effects in people with congestive heart failure—a common condition among the elderly.

After extracting morphine from vials with a syringe and replacing the lost substance with sodium chloride, “she would then remove the metal caps from the vials so it looked like the caps were defective,” the AP reported. Earlier this year, the facility’s director of nursing discovered puncture marks on the vials’ rubber covers and submitted Morrison to a urine drug test, which turned up positive for opiates.

Morrison was fired in May 2009 from Wesley Medical Center in Wichita for stealing Percocet, and was then hired by the nursing home three months later.

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