JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville nurse has pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product after she replaced painkillers with saline and then returned them supposedly unused, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
According to the plea agreement, on multiple occasions in 2017 and 2018, while working as a nurse in Jacksonville-area hospitals, including Memorial and Baptist Hospitals, Hampton extracted the painkiller hydromorphone (also known as Dilaudid) from syringes in the hospitals’ inventories, replaced the drug with saline and then returned the syringes for use by future patients, according to a press release.
A review of hospital records showed that Hampton was getting drugs meant for patient use, but then returning them supposedly unused at 10 times the rate of her nursing peers. In at least one instance, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hampton obtained a Dilaudid syringe for a patient who was not assigned to her, and who had not complained of pain, before returning the syringe purportedly unused.
When confronted by a supervisor, Hampton told investigators that she had been diverting drugs from patients for her personal use for months. She later told Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office detectives that she had been removing the Dilaudid from the syringes, replacing them with saline, and then returning the syringes to the hospital inventory.
In August 2018, Hampton told detectives she was in a car crash and was prescribed pain medication, but after a while the pills stopped working. She admitted the marks on her arms where from injected drugs.
Hampton, 38, admitted that removing the medicine from syringes and replacing it with saline could result in patients receiving injections that were not sterile and that lacked prescribed quantities of necessary medication, which could lead to increased risks of bodily injury and possibly death.
She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.