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Massachusetts nurse charged with stealing morphine from elderly patients

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BOSTON – A Haverhill nurse was charged in federal court in Boston with tampering with patients’ morphine.

Brianna Duffy, 32, was indicted on one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud or deception. Duffy will appear in federal court in Boston this afternoon.

As alleged in the indictment, on March 17 and 18, 2019, while working as a registered nurse at Hunt Nursing and Rehab in Danvers, Duffy tampered with morphine sulfate prescribed to an 89-year old hospice patient. In an attempt to avoid detection, she replaced the extracted medication with another liquid, diluting the morphine to just 26% of the prescribed concentration. The hospice patient received the diluted morphine and suffered unnecessary pain.

It is further alleged that from December 2016 until July 2017 while working as a registered nurse at Maplewood Care and Rehabilitation Center in Amesbury, Duffy diverted morphine from two bottles that were prescribed to a 68-year old patient. Duffy subsequently diluted the remaining morphine with another liquid, leaving only 1.2%-2.5% of the declared concentration of morphine. Duffy tested positive for morphine on July 18, 2017.

The charges provide for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Jeffrey Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Office on Investigations; and Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elysa Wan of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

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