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Former Emergency Department Nurse Sentenced to 3 Years After Stealing Pain Medication and Injecting Patients with Saline

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS- Jennifer L. Adams, 38, of Whitestown, has been sentenced to 3 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tampering with consumer products.

According to court documents, from October 1, 2018, to February 18, 2020, Jennifer Adams repeatedly tampered with vials of injectable pain medications, including fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, and ketamine, while employed as a registered nurse in the emergency department at Franciscan Health in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Using an automated medication dispensing machine, Adams gained access to the medications without authorization and used them herself. To conceal her scheme, she refilled the vials of medicine with saline solution and super glued the lids back on. Adams used the saline solution on thirty to forty unknowing patients who had been admitted to the emergency department and were in need of pain relief. The investigation found that Adams tampered with between two and seven vials of medicine during each shift that she worked.

“Emergency room patients depend on healthcare providers to give them the medicines they need. This defendant abused her position of trust to steal powerful prescription pain medications and give patients saline instead,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Substance use disorders are serious diseases impacting everyone, including nurses, and medically approved treatment is critical to saving lives and careers. That’s why my office worked with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to secure a settlement agreement to ensure that Hoosier nurses can have access to medication assisted treatment while participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program. I encourage all providers struggling with substance abuse to seek help, because stealing medications from patients is a serious crime that carries serious consequences.”

“Health care professionals who take needed medications from patients not only harm patients but also put at risk the trust that U.S. consumers have in those who provide their medical care,” said Special Agent in Charge Ronne Malham, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice health care professionals who tamper with patients’ medications.”

“Most health care workers are heroes and work very hard to save lives, but when one person decides to abuse this power, patients suffer tremendously,” Attorney General Rokita said. “This is unacceptable. We should be able to trust our doctors and nurses and not have to worry about tampered medication. I applaud the work of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for seeking justice for Hoosiers.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated this case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge James P. Hanlon. Judge Hanlon also ordered that Adams be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years following her release from federal prison and pay a $1,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Matthew B. Miller, who prosecuted this case.



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