Prosecutor will seek new charges in alleged drug theft

These are the latest developments in an ongoing tampering and substitution diversion case. All facilities should develop protocols to ensure that tampering cases are handled in a uniform manner and that staff know how to recognize and respond to signs of tampering. -Kim New

By Christina Hall

The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office says it plans on reauthorizing felony charges against a nurse accused of partially siphoning off morphine from vials of the drug intended for patients at a Mt. Clemens nursing facility and replacing it with water.

The charges of larceny in a building and adulterating/misbranding drugs/medicine were dismissed by Judge Carrie Fuca against Karen Lynn Spearman of Rockwood during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in 41B District Court in Clinton Township because laboratory testing hadn’t been completed. A misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license will be a set for a pretrial. No date has been set for that charge, according to the court.

Paul Stockyj, Spearman’s attorney, said the judge “determined there was not enough evidence on the charges against my client to proceed to trial.”

The prosecutor’s office on Thursday said it plans on reauthorizing the felony charges.

Spearman, 53, is a licensed practical nurse, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. She has an active license, issued in 1999, with no open formal complaints or disciplinary action on her record, according to the state agency. It states that her license expires March 31.

She was charged last month after an incident at the Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility, where she was working as a temporary agency nurse.

She was accused of adding water to morphine vials to conceal the theft, diluting the potency of the patients’ medication at the medical facility.

A staff nurse reported the matter and Spearman was being escorted out of the building to take a drug test, per protocol, when she was accused of fleeing to her vehicle, leaving the facility and hitting an employee and the curb with her vehicle, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said. The employee who was struck was not hurt.

The county-owned facility, which opened in 1950 and has 217 beds, provides care for county residents who are low-income and in need of long-term medical care. It often uses a service agency to provide nursing, but is moving toward not using agency personnel and having permanent full-time and part-time employees to care for its residents.

During a meeting Thursday, Macomb County commissioners discussed the facility’s proposed $23-million budget for this year, which includes adding 55 more full-time and part-time positions.

Jennifer Morgan, facility director and administrator, told the board that the facility has used agency temporary staff, including supervisors, for more than 20 years. She said the facility spends close to $1-million a year on agencies.

Published by – Detroit Free Press

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