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Press Release

Catholic Medical Center to Pay $300,000 to Settle Allegations of Controlled Substances

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Hampshire

CONCORD – Catholic Medical Center (CMC) in Manchester agreed to pay $300,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by failing to keep accurate records of controlled substances, including opioids, U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young announces.

The CSA deters the illegal distribution, possession, dispensing, and improper use of controlled substances. The CSA requires the accurate inventorying, tracking and recordkeeping of controlled substances to prevent misuse.

“The CSA created a ‘closed system’ of controlled substance distribution so the DEA can better monitor the movement of prescription drugs to end users. The requirement to keep complete and accurate records is crucial for accountability and transparency. In this case, an independent, certified registered nurse anesthetist was able to steal controlled substances almost every day she worked over the course of a year. Her thefts should have been detected before she was able to steal hundreds of doses of fentanyl. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these cases to ensure that hospitals abide by the regulations of the CSA,” said U.S. Attorney Jane Young.

“DEA registrants are responsible for handling-controlled substances responsibly and ensuring that complete and accurate records are being properly kept and accounted for in compliance with the Controlled Substance Act,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Stephen Belleau, Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure that these rules and regulations are followed.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began an investigation after CMC reported that an independent, certified registered nurse anesthetist, Robin Nichols, had tampered with and diverted liquid fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller drug. On June 12, 2024, Nichols pled guilty to tampering with consumer products. Nichols admitted that on April 15, 2023, while working as a nurse at CMC, she removed a quantity of fentanyl from a syringe intended for an operating room patient and which she knew was intended for that patient. Nichols replaced the fentanyl with a quantity of liquid saline and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). She also admitted to diverting the fentanyl for her own use.

The Investigation revealed that Nichols stole controlled substances approximately once every day that she worked for a year. One of the ways she diverted was by stealing fentanyl leftover from medical procedures, instead of safely discarding it. This action by Nichols resulted in the creation and retention of false wasting records. Therefore, the investigation revealed CMC’s failure to keep accurate and complete wasting records.

The DEA also completed an audit of CMC’s records which found that the records did not accurately reflect CMC’s inventory for seven controlled substances, including fentanyl, because CMC possessed greater quantities than its records indicated for those drugs. The DEA also found that CMC did not have effective controls and procedures in place to guard against the theft and diversion of controlled substances.

CMC did not admit to liability. CMC fully cooperated with the government’s investigation and has taken significant steps to improve its controls and procedures against future theft and diversion of controlled substances.

The DEA led the investigation leading to the settlement agreement. The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raphael Katz.

Updated July 3, 2024