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RN Accused of Drug Theft

RN Accused of Drug Theft

The Herald

August 30, 2009

A Pymatuning Township man has been accused of taking prescription painkillers for his own use from UPMC Horizon, Greenville, where he worked as a registered nurse.

Michael K. Miller, 47, of 1703 Park Lane, was charged by the state Attorney General’s office with acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, which is a felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, according to a news release issued Thursday by the office.

Miller was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Brian Arthur, Greenville, and waived the charges and his preliminary hearing to the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.

He’s free on bond and will be prosecuted by the Mercer County District Attorney’s office. Miller faces a maximum of 16 years in prison and $255,000 in fines.

“Our Bureau of Narcotics Investigation agents are very active in investigating medical professionals who are illegally using prescription pain medication. It is a potentially dangerous situation if the person you trust with your medical care is under the influence of drugs,” Attorney General Tom Corbett said.

Erin Palko, spokesperson for UPMC Horizon, said she could only comment that Miller no longer works for the hospital.

According to court documents filed by Narcotics Agent Lawrence J. Fuksa:

Fuksa was notified March 19 by Ronald Barnes, director of the hospital’s pharmacy, that Miller was suspected of theft for possibly taking Percocet from the medical acute care unit.

E. Tina Zank, nurse director, told Fuksa two nurses came to her office March 17 to discuss concerns they had regarding medication activity that happened during a shift with one patient.

During that shift, Miller reported twice medicating the patient of another nurse identified only as Nurse Gray while Nurse Gray was busy with other patients. Each time Nurse Gray checked on that patient, he denied having any pain.

Nurse Gray checked the computerized system that dispenses and tracks patients’ pain medication and found her patient had Percocet signed out to him multiple times, with some doses only 10 minutes apart.

Nurse Gray said Miller had a habit of medicating other nurses’ patients for “no apparent reason” when those nurses could easily medicate their own patients.

Barnes said he immediately printed reports from the system, which showed excessive amounts of Percocet being given to patients. Those records didn’t match those patients’ medication administration records.

On March 19, Barnes, the vice president of care services and Miller’s nurse manager met with Miller, who admitted he had taken the Percocet for his personal use.

Fuksa interviewed Miller June 10 at the Butler City Police Department, where Miller said he had an addiction problem with Percocet and he was the person who took the drug from the hospital to use at home.

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