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Nurse pleads guilty after being accused of taking morphine from multiple patients

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BOSTON – A Haverhill nurse pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to tampering with patients’ morphine.

Brianna Duffy, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud or deception. U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Sept. 14, 2020. Duffy was indicted in July 2019.

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.

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 removed morphine from the bottles and 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 up to 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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