Nurse fired for allegedly stealing morphine from home for dying patients and replacing it with decoy

By Trevor Wilhelm

A nurse at a long-term care home for elderly and dying patients has been fired after allegedly stealing powerful pain-killing drugs and replacing them with decoys.

The part-time registered practical nurse is accused of stealing morphine and hydromorphone from a nursing home in Chatham-Kent, Ont.

“The individual in question is no longer working for us,” said Tilbury Manor home administrator Jennifer Middleton. “I really can’t comment about this incident because it’s part of an ongoing police investigation.”

Ashley Hillman, 29, from Tilbury — a municipality in Chatham-Kent,  is charged with mischief and theft under $5,000. She is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 19.

Middleton wouldn’t say when the nurse was fired from Tilbury Manor, a 75-bed nursing home with a palliative care program and 24-hour on-site nursing.

Police said the nurse was on duty Nov. 19 when she allegedly unlocked a narcotics drawer and removed 12 ampules of morphine and hydromorphone.

The woman allegedly cut the tops off the ampules and emptied out the drugs, then refilled the containers with some other liquid. She then glued the tops back on and returned them to the drawer, police said.

Chatham-Kent Coun. Mark Authier, who received a briefing about the incident during a Tilbury BIA meeting, said he was told no patients were administered the decoy liquid.

Authier said the Business Improvement Association was notified of the theft at a meeting in mid-December. A Chatham-Kent police officer attends the monthly BIA meetings to update members about what has been going on in the community. Authier said the BIA board heard the ampules were refilled with water, but police have since said it was an “unknown liquid.”

“No one was ever given the water,” said Authier. “I guess when they went to get it to administer it, they noticed right away that the bottles had been tampered with.”

Middleton said Tilbury Manor representatives called police after discovering the drugs had been stolen.

“We contact all the authorities including the Ministry of Health and local police,” she said. “So it’s being investigated by them and they are aware of the issue.”

She wouldn’t discuss how or when the theft was discovered.

“I can tell you I’m proud of the systems and the processes that we have here at our home,” said Middleton. “They’re very efficient and effective to ensure our residents’ safety. As an organization we’re able to deal with these types of situations quickly to ensure the quality of service to our residents is at its highest standards.”

Published by – National Post

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