A drug-addicted nurse who was convicted for stealing Demerol reportedly used super glue to cover up her tampering.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington state reported that Drea Lynne Gibson was sentenced to just over a year in prison for tampering with doses of Demerol at the surgical center where she worked. While working as a nurse at the Plastic Surgery Center in Bellevue, WA, she stole Demerol ampules for her own use and then refilled those ampules with saline solution.
Here is the amazing part: Gibson used super glue to seal the ampules and then replaced the ampules in the box. “As a result, ampules containing saline solution, secured by super glue, were disguised to appear as genuine Demerol ampules,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported in a press release. “On multiple occasions during November 2008, anesthesiologists at the clinic administered the tampered ampules to patients recovering from surgery under the belief that they were administering Demerol. When patients complained that their pain was not being relieved, the anesthesiologist switched pain medications and administered fentanyl to relieve the pain.”
Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Lally wrote to the court: “Drea Gibson’s on-going conduct put many unsuspecting patients at risk. Not only did some patients unnecessarily experience pain during surgical procedures because they were injected with saline instead of the prescribed anesthetic but these same patients were placed at risk of infection from Gibson’s non-sterile handling of the tampered ampules.”
Super glue! Her success in fooling the subsequent staff who handled those ampules shows that better tamper evidence is absolutely required. There are myriad ways of adding an additional layer of evidence: caps, labels, and seals, to name a few. Single-use prefilled syringes, too, could be employed.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office added in its press release on Gibson’s sentencing reported that “national statistics show an increasing level of unlawful drug diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances, as well as overdoses of such drugs resulting in rising medical costs. Studies reflect that hospital admissions attributable to prescription drug abuse and overdose have increased 500% over the last 10 years, and are currently costing the United States more than $1 billion dollars in health care costs each year. The unlawful possession and diversion of such substances by individuals – be it by patients, non-patients, or by medical professionals, contributes to this escalating problem, poses a danger to the user and to others, and constitutes a violation of law.”
Patients must be protected from such crimes. And eliminating the gaps that add up to $1 billion in added costs should be a priority as well.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.