Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2004

Lansing nurse sentenced for drug tampering

December 23, 2004

— A former nurse from Lansing is on her way to prison after being found guilty of drug tampering while she was working at a Leavenworth hospital.

Susan L. Harris, 32, Lansing, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Thomas VanBebber to 51 months in federal prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on one count of tampering with a consumer product, the U.S. Attorney for Kansas announced.

Harris pleaded guilty July 1, 2004.

U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said that in Harris' plea, she admitted she removed a vial of Demerol from a medication cart on or about Jan. 23, 2004, at Cushing Memorial Hospital, broke the seal on the vial, removed some of the Demerol solution and replaced it with saline solution. Then she readjusted the seal so the tampering was not immediately evident.

On Jan. 23, 2004, the Demerol solution she had tampered with was administered to a patient to relieve pain caused by a bowel obstruction. The patient did not receive any relief from the pain.

During sentencing, Melgren said, VanBebber considered testimony and reports from a psychologist hired by Harris and a psychiatrist retained by the government relating to Harris' claim that she suffered from diminished mental capacity at the time of the offense. The judge determined that the evidence did not support the defendant's claim of diminished capacity and overruled her motion for a lesser sentence.

Melgren commended the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker, who prosecuted the case.

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