A now-former nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute stands accused of draining syringes of an opioid meant for cancer patients in extreme pain and replacing them with water.
Kelsey Mulvey is charged with fraud, tampering and health insurance violations
The main drug in question was dilaudid, a powerful paid reliever often administered by injection.
The 27-year-old Mulvey, of Grand Island, allegedly would drain a syringe and replace with clear fluid, sometimes believed tap water, then replace the cap and mark it with a black dot. Those syringes would be placed back in the automated medication dispensing system for eventual patient use.
The U.S. Attorney said toward the end of the timeframe of the alleged tampering, there was a spike in waterborne bacteria detected among patients. In all, 81 patients were potentially affected. All have recovered, said prosecutors.
“She cared for very sick patients every day, then went ahead and made them sicker,” said Gary Loeffert, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge.
Mulvey faces a prison sentence of 10 years, if convicted.
Roswell Park responded to the announcement this afternoon in a statement:
In 2018, we suspected that a healthcare worker was removing controlled substances from Roswell Park. Having zero tolerance for this behavior, Roswell Park immediately informed the New York State Department of Health, the NYS Department of Education and the Bureau of Narcotics and Tobacco Enforcement, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and NYPORT.
At the time of this investigation, all patients who could have received contaminated medication were notified and appropriate medical follow-up was completed. We have also learned through the investigation that our nurses advocated for those patients for whom their pain did not seem to be sufficiently relieved and took appropriate action to relieve their pain.
Since that time, we have taken significant organizational steps to enhance ongoing prevention, detection and response to health care worker drug diversion.
These include heightened surveillance with high-tech software, on-campus security features, review and revision of current policy and procedures, and increased staff training and education on what they can do to keep their patients and themselves safe as it relates to drug diversion. We have also enhanced dedicated resources for the diversion prevention program.
According to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, approximately 20% of nurses struggle with an addiction to drug or alcohol, and one in 10 physicians will fall into drug or alcohol abuse at some point in their lives, mirroring the general population.”