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Posted on: June 28, 2019 at 10:11 am
Last updated: August 3, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Following serious allegations leveled against her by the hospital, a young nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, New York, has been arrested and is being prosecuted for endangering the lives of her patients. Between February and June 2018, Nurse Kelsey Mulvey had been allegedly tampering with the pain medications of cancer patients under her care, swapping the content in the syringes with plain tap water after taking them for herself.

The 27-year-old from Nebraska had worked as a registered nurse at Roswell for two years, and is currently being prosecuted by the FBI on charges under HIPPA law, health insurance violations, tampering with medications, and fraud. 

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Tons of patients were left in great pain during all her shifts

According to reports from WIVB 4 News, Mulvey was said to have been taking the medications required by her very sick patients for her own personal use [1]. She would extract the powerful narcotic from vials and syringes and administer plain tap water in their place, causing her patients to suffer in great pain through all her shifts, progressively worsening their conditions.

“As a nurse, Miss Mulvey saw cancer patients suffer in pain every shift she worked. She cared for very sick patients every day and went ahead and made them sicker,” said Gary Loeffert, the Buffalo FBI special agent in charge of the prosecution.

The medication she was said to have been tampering with is dihydromorphinone, commonly known as Dilaudid. This drug is an opioid used only to treat cancer patients who would be in pain for long periods. Dilaudid is one of the more powerful narcotics and is usually administered in monitored doses to relieve patients in extreme pain. Mulvey was alleged to have been siphoning the medications for her own use for about four months, subsequently endangering the lives of about 81 patients placed under her care during this period.

Also speaking at the press release was James Kennedy Jr., U.S attorney of the Western District of New York. “The complaint alleges that she did so by taking vials of this medication from the Pyxis machine, which is an automated medication dispensing system to which she had access,” he said.

According to Kennedy, there was a significant increase in the contraction of waterborne infections by patients under Mulvey’s care, as she would fill the vials with a clear fluid believed to be water and place them back in the Pyxis.

 We all know someone who suffers from addiction. It is a real-honest disease. But we also know people who have suffered from painful and debilitating cancers. Mulvey’s actions not only put her own health at risk but also the wellbeing of dozens of patients,” said Kennedy.

Address from the Institute

All the patients are reportedly safe and unharmed by the nurse’s actions. On June 4, 2019, Roswell Park released an official statement to the press concerning their employee’s actions. 

“At the time of this investigation, all patients who could have received contaminated medication were notified and appropriate medical follow-up was completed. We have also learned through the investigation that our nurses advocated for those patients for whom their pain did not seem to be sufficiently relieved and took appropriate action to relieve their pain.Since that time, we have taken significant organizational steps to enhance ongoing prevention, detection, and response to health care worker drug diversion,” an excerpt from the statement read.

They assured the general public that security and surveillance have been beefed up in the hospital, and the staff is being trained more intensely on drug diversion prevention.

According to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, approximately 20% of nurses struggle with an addiction to drug or alcohol, and one in 10 physicians will fall into drug or alcohol abuse at some point in their lives, mirroring the general population,” the statement read.

  1. Digital Staff. Former Roswell Park nurse accused of swapping syringes with tap water. WIVB-TV. https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/former-roswell-nurse-accused-of-swapping-opioid-with-tap-water1/2052416144. Retrieved 26/06/19  
  2. Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Official website. https://www.roswellpark.org/justonedaywithus. Retrieved 26/06/19
  3. Admin. What does the HIPAA Privacy Rule do? HHS.gov https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/faq/187/what-does-the-hipaa-privacy-rule-do/index.html. Retrieved 26/06/19
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