Magazine article FDA Consumer

Nurse Sentenced for Drug Tampering at Indiana Hospital

Magazine article FDA Consumer

Nurse Sentenced for Drug Tampering at Indiana Hospital

Article excerpt

A former registered nurse used syringes to steal morphine and another powerful narcotic and then tried to cover up his crime by refilling vials with saline solution, Food and Drug Administration investigators say.

Paul Seymour, 30, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison on May 11, 2001, after pleading guilty for drug tampering, with reckless disregard for patients' pain.

The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations in Chicago and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Indianapolis partnered on the case. The investigation began after an employee at Westview Hospital in Indianapolis reported in September 2000 that vials of Demerol (meperidine) and morphine had been tampered with.

Demerol and morphine are Schedule II drugs used to treat pain. These controlled substances have a high potential for abuse, and abuse of the drugs may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence: (The classes--or schedule--of drugs are explained in "Controlled Substances" on page 23.)

Investigators identified Seymour, a nurse at Westview, as a suspect on Sept. 10, 2000. Hospital employees reported that he recently had several unscheduled absences, and exhibited other erratic behavior such as sweating excessively and appearing drowsy to the point of nodding off. In addition, a criminal history check revealed that Seymour was on probation in Marion County, Southern District of Indiana, for possession of crack cocaine.

One of the terms of Seymour's probation was that he allow authorities to search his residence at any time. On Sept. 15, 2000, the Marion County Probation Department, FDA and DEA agents, and the Indianapolis Police Department searched Seymour's apartment and seized numerous needles and syringes connecting him with the tampering. Investigators discovered residue of Demerol and morphine on several syringes, along with glue that Seymour used to reseal packages of Demerol he had opened. …

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