Federal prosecutors on Wednesday alleged a former hospice nurse of stealing liquid morphine used for dying veterans. It also led to at least one veteran struggling in his last few days.
Kathleen Noftle, 55, is a nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The accused stole the drugs from patients in the hospice care unit in 2017m
Investigators told she admitted to mixing the drug close to thrice by diluting water with it and then administering half of the dose to patients under her care and took the remainder for herself.
According to the documents, Noftle misused her position in 2017 to get doses of morphine that were intended for the veterans under her care in the hospice unit, the US Attorney’s Office said.
In one case, a veteran suffered increased difficulties with breathing and endured more suffering in his final days, federal prosecutors revealed in the charging documents.
The investigation also said that previously Noftle worked at the VA center in Bedford, she quit her job as a nurse from another hospital as she did not follow protocol when disposing narcotics on 60 occasions.
The VA medical center declared in a statement that the accusations against Noftle “are completely opposite to VA’s rules, that’s why we dismissed this individual and reported her behavior to VA’s independent inspector general.”
Noftle is facing charges of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation and for tampering with a consumer product using malicious ways, the attorney’s office said.
She is set to be sentenced to close to 14 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 if found guilty on both the charges. An undisclosed source revealed she unlikely to receive any leeway in her sentence, even by luck.
Noftle’s first court appearance will be on Wednesday afternoon in Boston federal court. Noftle and her attorney did not refuse to respond for comment.