Registered nurse pleads guilty to tampering with patients’ pain medications | USAO-WDMI

GREAT RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced today that Alison Renee Marshall, 45, of Sturgis, Michigan, pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Lansing, Michigan, to a charge of tampering with a consumer product, specifically vials of liquid fentanyl at the hospital where she worked.

According to court documents, Marshall, a registered nurse who previously worked in the interventional radiology unit at a hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, removed liquid fentanyl and replaced it with saline in July and August 2020. The August 20, 2020, another A nurse working in the interventional radiology unit admitted that a 72-year-old cancer patient undergoing a percutaneous chest tube placement procedure did not receive the pain relief expected from fentanyl liquid administered at the beginning of the procedure. A subsequent investigation by the hospital’s staff pharmacist revealed that several vials of fentanyl in the unit’s medication vending machines had caps that appeared to be glued back onto the vials. Hospital records revealed that Marshall checked fentanyl doses for patients 14 times in July and August 2020, but then reversed the transactions and allegedly returned the fentanyl to the interventional radiology unit’s inventory. FDA lab examination of the vials with the caps taped on revealed needle sticks consistent with tampering, and lab tests showed the vials were significantly diluted, containing 3% or less of the amount of fentanyl reported.

On August 24, 2020, Marshall met with hospital officials and admitted to having diverted fentanyl for his own use by removing vials of fentanyl injection from drug dispensers, extracting fentanyl using syringes, replacing medication with saline solution, re-gluing the plastic tamper-evident caps to the vials, and returning the vials to the unit medication dispensers. During a plea hearing before United States District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou, Marshall admitted that by removing the fentanyl, filling the vials with saline, and returning the vials to the inventory of the hospital, she acted with reckless disregard that a patient would be placed in danger of death or bodily harm and showed extreme indifference to such risk.

US Attorney Mark Totten said: “Patients entering a hospital must have confidence that they will receive the treatment they are promised.” He continued: “Marshall breached that trust and exposed vulnerable patients to possible infection and unnecessary pain and suffering. Today’s guilty plea brings us one step closer to accountability and sends a message to other potential offenders that we will not sit idly by when they violate patient trust.

“Patients rely on FDA-approved medications to manage their pain,” said Special Agent in Charge Lynda M. Burdelik of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office. “We will continue to prosecute and bring to justice healthcare professionals who endanger the health of patients by tampering with their pain medications.

Sentencing for Marshall is scheduled for September 21, 2022. Marshall faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison. The court will determine the sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

This matter was investigated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations.

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