Substance abuse among health care professionals (especially nurses in skilled care facilities) has increased significantly over the last decade. The opioid crisis has dramatically affected nurses and other caregivers. Recently another registered nurse was arrested for stealing pain mediacation and watering down morphine intended for a patient, according to court documents. Joshua D. Williams worked at Greenbrier Regional Medical Center. He was charged with tampering with a consumer product.
The indictment says Williams was working as a supervisory registered nurse at Greenbrier Regional in August 2018 when he tampered with a bottle of liquid morphine sulfate prescribed to a patient. The indictment says he removed a quantity of the drug and replaced it with a saline solution, diluting its concentration to about 14% of what it was labeled.
Court documents don’t say why Williams allegedly diluted the morphine, but according to media reports and prosecutors in other cases, medical staff oftentimes steal the opiate for personal use.
“The morphine discrepancy … was detected during a routine audit,” R. Bruce McCorkle, Greenbrier Regional’s administrator said in a statement, indicating staff reported the situation to “the appropriate state and federal authorities.”
The department said he is authorized to work in several other states, including Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina.