The Department of Justice continues to crack down on medical personnel stealing opioids from hospitals.
Nurses are still being charged with stealing opioids as the drug crisis worsens amid COVID-19, authorities warn. Taking advantage of their access to addictive medications, they are robbing patients of medications necessary to manage chronic pain.
Shannon Dandridge, 41, of Walterboro, South Carolina, a nurse from Beaufort Memorial Hospital is facing charges of “forging doctors’ notes to secure opioids,” according to arrest warrants. Dandridge was charged with six counts of violating drug distribution laws by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. She is accused of “entering unauthorized medication” orders from two different doctors to obtain Oxycodone in December 2019.” And nurses aren’ t the only ones getting caught. A pharmacist who worked at Beaufort Memorial Hospital was also charged in August with stealing opioids from the hospital in October 2019.
In July, Jace Theodosiou, 24, a Buncombe County, North Carolina, nurse, was initially indicted on two felony charges by a Haywood County Grand Jury for allegedly” embezzling and misusing narcotics prescribed to his patient.” This caused Theodosiou to overdose.
“At the time of the incident, Theodosiou was providing contracted in-home nursing care to a juvenile patient with extreme special needs in Canton,” records indicate. “Theodosiou had been found unconscious during his shift in the patient’s bedroom by the patient’s father.”
The indictment states Theodosiou did “inflict serious physical injury upon [the victim], a child under the age of 16 years, while providing care to and/or supervision to the child, when defendant withheld medication from the child, resulting in serious physical injury to the child. Defendant’s willful conduct and/or grossly negligent omission in the care of the child was a reckless disregard for human life.”
Last year, Kelsey Mulvey, 27, of Grand Island, New York, one of the registered nurses at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, was also charged with stealing opioids meant for chronic pain patients by draining syringes and refilling them with tap water. “This may have led to an outbreak of water-borne infection among some patients being treated for pain,” according to allegations in a federal criminal complaint that followed. Mulvey stands accused of “illegally obtaining controlled substances by fraud, tampering, and violations of patient privacy.” Antibiotics were administered to the patients and, luckily, there were no patient deaths.
“Patients deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the proper treatment from those entrusted with providing their medical care,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey J. Ebersole, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office. “As part of the FDA’s comprehensive work to address the opioid epidemic, we will continue to hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients, especially when such tampering could cause unnecessary pain and suffering.”
“We will continue to hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients, especially when such tampering could cause unnecessary pain and suffering,” added Jeffrey Ebersole of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office.