Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
December 4, 2009: Former New Hampshire Registered Nurse Pleads Guilty for Tampering with Dilaudid and Demerol Syringes at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Yesterday in U.S. District Court, Trinidad Smith, 28, of Manchester, NH, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging her with violations involving consumer product tampering and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deception.
During the plea hearing before Judge Joseph N. Laplante, Smith admitted to tampering with Demerol and Dilaudid syringes and vials that were maintained in a Pyxis machine for dispensing to patients at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. Smith, who was a registered nurse licensed by the State of New Hampshire Board of Nursing, accessed the Pyxis machine containing the prescription pain medications by using her personal access number assigned to her by the hospital. Smith admitted that after removing the drugs for her personal use, she replaced the medication in the syringes with saline and returned the tampered syringes to the machine for future use by patients.
As described at yesterday’s plea hearing, the investigation uncovered a total of 24 syringes and three vials that appeared to have been tampered with. Examination of the syringes revealed that their tamper resistant seals were cut or visibly broken with tape placed over the seals. The Forensic Chemistry Center of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that the Dilaudid syringes were diluted by approximately 48% and 92%. Two of the syringes were also found to contain the active ingredient in Benadryl which certain patients are allergic. Further testing of the Demerol syringes determined that Demerol’s active ingredient was diluted by approximately 46% to 85%.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. Smith’s plea agreement, if accepted by the Court at the time of sentencing, will result in an incarceration term of 15 to 48 months.The case was investigated by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Singleton of the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Irish.