Former Roswell Park Nurse Charged With Stealing Pain Meds And Violating HIPAA
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Kelsey A. Mulvey, 27, of Grand Island, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with illegally obtaining controlled substances by fraud, tampering, and violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant, a former nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, used her position as a nurse to tamper with and steal vials of medication and pills, such as hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone, and oxycodone, all Schedule II controlled substances, and lorazepam, a Schedule IV controlled substance. Mulvey took the vials of medication from the Pyxis machine, an automated medication dispensing system. As a nurse, the defendant had access to the Pyxis system.
Mulvey was placed on administrative leave on June 28, 2018, after a large number of transactions associated with the defendant in the Pyxis system were identified as “cancelled removed,” indicating that the Pyxis machine drawer for the selected medication was accessed but the transactions were cancelled. The complaint states that Roswell Park inferred that Mulvey had removed and replaced controlled substances with water from the Pyxis machines. Many of these transactions took place on floors and/or wings where the defendant was not assigned and did not have patients. Mulvey accessed the Pyxis machines during her scheduled shifts, on days she was not scheduled to work, and on three dates of scheduled vacation. Between February and June 2018, the defendant is accused of failing to properly administer medication for 81 patients.
In June and July 2018, there was a span of waterborne infections at Roswell Park. The complaint states that six patients allegedly became infected as a result of the defendant replacing medications with contaminated water.
The defendant resigned her position in Lieu of Termination on July 13, 2018.
“Once again, this case illustrates the destructive power of opioid addiction,” noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “In this case, however, the harm caused by defendant’s actions resulted not only in harm to herself but in harm to some of the most compromised and vulnerable individuals in our community—those members of our community receiving cancer treatments. If we fail to take action to protect the most vulnerable among us, then we fail as a government.”
“Patients deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the proper treatment from those entrusted with providing their medical care,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey J. Ebersole, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office. “As part of the FDA’s comprehensive work to address the opioid epidemic, we will continue to hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients, especially when such tampering could cause unnecessary pain and suffering.”
“This is not the first time we have investigated and charged a healthcare professional who suffers from addiction,” said FBI Buffalo Special-Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert. “Accessibility to these highly sought-after drugs makes it easier for medical professionals to feed their addiction. Ms. Mulvey's actions not only put her own health at risk, but also the wellbeing of dozens of patients.”
The defendant made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
The complaint is the culmination of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Ebersole; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the New York State Department of Education, Office of Professional Discipline; and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Letitia James.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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