Nursing home residents in New Mexico rely on health care staff to provide them with correct doses of medication. A routine audit of medications at one facility, however, revealed a betrayal of this trust. The staff discovered that a bottle of liquid morphine sulfate had been diluted with saline solution and reduced to only a 14% concentration of what it was supposed to contain. A registered nurse appeared to be the source of the tampering, and the facility administrator reported the incident to authorities. Police subsequently arrested the man, who now faces a charge of tampering with a consumer product.
The morphine had been prescribed for a patient. Prosecutors said his actions placed another person at risk of injury and imposed physical pain. The RN’s licensing record had not shown any previous reprimands and remains valid until June 2021. He is eligible to work as an RN in multiple states, but court documents show that he has been barred from working in health care settings as he waits for his trial. A judge also ordered that he disclose the criminal case to any current employers.
Prosecutors working on his case have not provided a comment about why the defendant diluted the morphine. Motivations in similar cases involved staff members stealing narcotics from patients for personal use.
Medication theft, verbal assaults, physical battery or sexual assaults all represent forms of nursing home abuse. A resident or relative who wants to know how to respond to a serious situation like this might wish to consult an attorney. Legal support might help a family move someone to safety quickly and collect evidence to support a claim for damages. A victim might obtain compensation for medical bills and suffering that resulted from an attack or neglect.