A paramedic in Indiana was recently arrested after admitting to stealing vials of fentanyl from ambulance supplies while treating victims at accident scenes.
Jeanan Joseph, a paramedic in Indianapolis, is accused of stealing the substance and tampering with the vials to hide her theft. Prosecutors in Marion County, Ind., filed charges against Joseph earlier this week following a joint investigation by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, reports FOX 59.
Officials launched the investigation after finding irregularities with the fentanyl supply in a ambulance belonging to the Pike Township Fire Department. Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is used on patients in emergency situations to manage their injuries.
“Joseph reported that she would normally administer a partial dose of fentanyl to the patient in need, and instead of properly disposing of the remaining as waste, she would use the fentanyl herself,” says a probable cause affidavit, according to FOX 59. “Joseph denied tampering with or replacing a controlled substance with saline.”
Joseph, who is employed by the St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, admitted to the theft in November and was also the only paramedic with access to the substance to test positive for fentanyl during a subsequent drug test. She faces a number of charges including obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit and possession of a narcotic drug.
Officials with St. Vincent Hospital issued a statement Wednesday saying they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
Authorities arrested a nurse found stealing vials of fentanyl from a hospital in North Carolina Dec. 18 that nearly caused an officer to suffer an overdose. Forsyth Medical Center fired Brown following her arrest and the North Carolina Board of Nursing suspended her nursing license. Brown faces a felony count of Embezzlement of a Controlled Substance by Employee and one misdemeanor count of Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer.
Fentanyl overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016, claiming 19,413 lives in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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