A nurse at a surgery center in Florida is accused of swiping 67 vials of the synthetic opioid fentanyl from medical supplies intended for patients.
Authorities charged 51-year-old Kirsten McDonough with grand theft of a controlled substance Tuesday following a months-long investigation that began in December. McDonough, who would assist anesthesiologists at the Merritt Island Surgery Center, allegedly signed out twice the amount of fentanyl needed for surgeries, pocketing the rest for personal use, reports Florida Today.
Officials at the surgery center originally called investigators from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Dec. 1 after noticing the missing fentanyl supplies and suspended McDonough without pay.
McDonough stole a total 67 fentanyl vials containing roughly 134 milliliters of the potent painkiller.
“Nationwide, people are using it to cut heroin with,” said Tod Goodyear, spokesman for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, according to Florida Today. “Depending on the potency, it’s dangerous to even touch it.”
Fentanyl theft cases are rising amid the national opioid epidemic. Illinois police recently arrested a nurse after he allegedly stole fentanyl patches from ill, elderly patients at two rehabilitation homes where he worked. James Rellihan, 31, allegedly went to the Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center Feb. 24, where he took three fentanyl patches off a terminally ill man. He allegedly told the patient, “It will be OK,” as he removed the patches.
Two days later he stole fentanyl patches off a man suffering from dementia at another facility where he was previously employed.
An Indiana paramedic was recently arrested after admitting to stealing fentanyl vials from ambulance supplies while treating victims at accident scenes. St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center employee Jeanan Joseph admitted to the theft in November and was the only paramedic with access to the substance to test positive for fentanyl during a subsequent drug screening.
North Carolina authorities also arrested a nurse, Hayley Lammon Brown, found stealing vials of fentanyl from a Winston-Salem hospital Dec. 18 that nearly caused an officer to overdose. Forsyth Medical Center fired Brown following her arrest and the North Carolina Board of Nursing suspended her nursing license.
President Trump Vows To Win The War Against Opioid Addiction:
Fentanyl overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016, claiming 19,413 lives, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The substance can be anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.