Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Former nurse sentenced in Cushing drug-tampering case

December 29, 2004

A former registered nurse has been sentenced to prison for tampering with drugs at Cushing Memorial Hospital in Leavenworth.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Susan L. Harris, 32, Lansing, has been sentenced to 51 months in federal prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on one count of tampering with a consumer product. She pled guilty on July 1, and admitted that in late 2003 she began working as a registered nurse at Cushing. About Jan. 23, she removed a vial of Demerol from a medication cart at the hospital, broke the seal on the vial, removed some of the Demerol solution and replaced it with saline solution. Then she readjusted the seal. 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.

The U.S. attorney's office said that during sentencing, the judge considered testimony and reports from a psychologist hired by Harris and a psychiatrist retained by the government on Harris' claim that she suffered from diminished mental capacity at the time of the offense. The judge determined that the evidence did not support Harris' claim of diminished capacity and overruled her motion for a lesser sentence.

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