Nurse at VA medical center allegedly took morphine meant for dying veterans

A former hospice nurse is accused of diverting morphine from veterans at the Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center campus in Bedford, Massachusetts, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, of Tewksbury, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged in Boston federal court with one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, and one count of tampering with a consumer product, according to a release from the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office.

According to charging documents, Noftle used her position in 2017 to obtain doses of morphine that were meant for the veterans under her care in the hospice unit, the US Attorney’s Office said.

“Noftle admitted to federal agents that she mixed water from a sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to patients orally,” the statement said. “Noftle then allegedly ingested a diluted amount of the remaining drug.”

Investigators also found that Noftle had previously resigned from another hospital, “following her failure to follow appropriate procedures when wasting narcotics on 60 occasions,” federal prosecutors said.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately return an email Wednesday night.

In a statement, Joan Clifford, director of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, said Noftle was no longer an employee, CNN affiliate WFXT reported.

“These allegations run completely counter to VA’s values, that’s why we terminated this individual and reported her behavior to VA’s independent inspector general,” Clifford said in the statement, according to the station.

Phone calls to Noftle went unreturned Wednesday. She made her appearance in federal court in Boston on Wednesday and was appointed an attorney.

CNN has called and emailed Noftle’s attorney for comment. A probable cause hearing has been set for October 16.

Noftle faces up to 14 years in prison, if convicted.

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