Florida Nurse Swaps 450 Vials Of Fentanyl For Saline, Pleads Guilty


Melanie Wilcox Contributor
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A Florida nurse pleaded guilty Tuesday to self-administering vials of fentanyl via injection, and then replacing the nearly 450 used fentanyl bottles with saline.

Between about February 28 to April 18, 2022, Catherine Shannon Dunton, 54, a licensed registered circulating nurse at Jensen Beach in Martin County, injected the liquid narcotic painkiller into her own body, and replaced it with saline that would be used on patients during outpatient surgical procedures, according to the Department of Justice. (RELATED: Biden Admin To Increase Actions To Counter Growing Threat Of Fentanyl Laced With Animal Tranquilizer)

Dunton, who pled guilty to tampering with a consumer product, may face up to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000, the DOJ reported. The sentencing is scheduled to take place June 27 before U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon.

Joseph A. Ladapo, the State Surgeon General, issued an emergency order last August to suspend Dunton’s license, state records show.

Prior to this incident in May of 2022, Dunton told the Intervention Project for Nurses that she had done an alcohol and drug detoxification program and was receiving outpatient services, according to Florida’s Department of Health. She told Dr. Lawrence Wilson, a physician specializing in addiction medicine and psychiatry and who was evaluating her after, that she used Demerol, fentanyl, Percocet, and morphine for her personal use in 2008 as a nurse at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

Despite entering a substance abuse monitoring contract with IPN in 2009, she was consuming a bottle of wine or four to five vodka drinks per day for the first three years of her contract. While still working as a registered nurse at LRMC, she would inject fentanyl at least three days per week. After a positive fentanyl screening in 2012, her license was suspended.