Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2004

Nurse gets prison for tampering

December 30, 2004

Kansas City, Kan. - A former nurse from Lansing is on her way to federal 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.

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 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, the Demerol solution Harris 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 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.

The Bureau of Prisons said Harris was listed as a prisoner "in transit" to an as-yet undisclosed federal prison facility. A spokesman said it typically took about 30 to 60 days after sentencing to designate a prisoner to a specific facility.

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