Temporary nurse charged with stealing morphine

A 53-year-old woman working temporarily as a nurse at Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility is accused of stealing morphine from vials and replacing the drug with water to hide the theft.

Karen Lynn Spearman, a resident of Rockford, faces multiple felony charges following her arrest Wednesday by deputies from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Spearman is charged with: larceny in a building, a four-year felony; two counts of adulterating or misbranding drugs, each a two-year felony; and operating a vehicle with a suspended license, a 93-day misdemeanor.

The defendant was arraigned Thursday in Clinton Township’s 41-B District Court. She posted $7,500 bond and was released. Spearman is due back in court Jan. 27.

Spearman was assigned to Martha T. Berry by a temporary employment agency, hospital officials said.

According to police and hospital officials, the incident that led Spearman’s arrest occurred about 7 a.m. Wednesday during the nurses’ shift change at Martha T. Berry.

Hospital protocol requires the nurse coming on duty to inspect medication carts before assuming responsibility from the nurse going off duty.

The nurse coming on duty noticed that three vials of morphine were leaking. Upon further inspection, the nurse noted three puncture holes in the vials.

Per hospital protocol, the nurse going off duty, Spearman, was required to take a drug test, police said. She agreed, but while being led from the hospital to take the test, Spearman fled to her vehicle. While escaping, Spearman struck a hospital employee with her vehicle, police said. The employee was not injured.

Police said an investigation of the incident revealed Spearman had removed some morphine from three vials on the medication cart. She then put the extracted morphine in a container and placed the container in a garbage bag on the cart.

Police also accused the woman of trying to mask the theft by adding water to the vials, an act that diluted the potency of the drug for patients.

In a statement released by Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility, Director Jennifer Morgan praised the nurse who discovered the theft.

“We are pleased the staff nurse that has been employed at Martha T. Berry … for over seven years and is truly dedicated to her profession,” Morgan said.

“… We are taking this matter seriously because our mission and dedication is to the residents and the people we serve.”

Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility provides care to low-income persons who are in need of long-term medical care. The facility recently received the Great Lakes Caring Hospice 2015 Award for Excellence.

Published by – Macomb Daily

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