United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Anacortes Nurse Pleads Guilty To Tampering With Narcotic Pain Medications At Hospice Facility
Stole Morphine for Her Own Use, Replacing it with Tap Water
A 33-year-old nurse from Anacortes, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to tampering with consumer products and acquiring a controlled substance by fraud or misrepresentation, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. ERIN LINVOG, a former nurse at Fidalgo Care Center & Rosario Assisted Living, faces up to ten years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones on July 12, 2013.
According to the facts admitted in the plea agreement, in June 2010, LINVOG began working at the Rosario Assisted Living Center, an elder care facility in Anacortes, Washington, that offers skilled nursing and hospice care to terminally ill patients. LINVOG became credentialed as a registered nurse in November 2011. Sometime in late 2011, LINVOG began stealing narcotics from the facility for her own use. Using her position and authority as a nurse, she requested and received orders for morphine from pharmacies on behalf of Rosario patients, but then diverted entire bottles of narcotics rather than properly logging them into the assigned medicine carts. Moreover, in multiple instances admitted in the plea agreement, LINVOG removed liquid morphine from medicine bottles for her own use, and replaced the missing morphine with tap water, before returning the tampered bottles back to the facility’s medicine carts, where they could have been, and at times were, administered to patients.
The morphine was intended to alleviate the pain of various elderly patients in end-of-life care. LINVOG’s conduct meant that patients near the end of their life were receiving inadequate amounts of medicine to treat their pain and discomfort, and that medical staff did not have a clear picture of the appropriate dosage – since the morphine on hand was diluted. The conduct created the risk that patients could be overdosed if treated with non-diluted medicine, as well as the risk they would suffer needlessly in their final days. LINVOG’s conduct was discovered by the facility in February 2012, which led to her termination shortly thereafter.
The case was investigated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Anacortes Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Masada and Jerrod Patterson.