Nurse Pleads Guilty To Stealing Fentanyl from Hospital

By Kelly Burch 08/03/18

According to police, the nurse admitted that she had initially stolen the fentanyl for her husband before she started using it herself.

Nurse putting on gloves

A North Carolina nurse has admitted that she stole fentanyl from the hospital where she worked, first for her husband and later for personal use. 

Hayley Lammon Brown, 29, was working at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina when the theft occurred, according to The Winston-Salem Journal.

This week, Brown entered a guilty plea in Forsyth Superior Court to one count of embezzlement of a controlled substance by an employee, and was given a suspended sentence of eight to 19 months and placed on three years of supervised probation. She was also charged with assault of a police officer after an officer was exposed to the drug, and she is appealing her guilty plea in that case. 

During sentencing, Judge Ed Wilson said that Brown needs to get treatment, although it was not court-ordered. “You’re either going to spend the rest of your life in prison or you’re going to die if you don’t do something about this,” he said.

Authorities first came into contact with Brown in April 2017 when they responded to an overdose at Brown’s home. At the time she told police that her husband had bought the medication online.

However, officers found two vials of hospital-grade fentanyl at the home. At that point, the local police department asked for assistance from the FBI. 

John Keane, special agent in charge with the State Bureau of Investigation, interviewed Brown, and she admitted that she had been stealing fentanyl from the hospital beginning in 2016. She said that she first took the drugs for her husband, before she started using them herself. 

When the hospital learned of Brown’s alleged theft, it did a three-month audit of her use of medications and found discrepancies in how she handled fentanyl. The hospital fired her and the North Carolina Board of Nursing suspended her nursing license. Brown later voluntarily gave up her license for a year, but after that she will be eligible to have her license reinstated. 

Although fentanyl is at the center of the opioid epidemic and has become a popular street drug, it does have legitimate medical use.

However, because of its potential for abuse it is carefully regulated in hospitals. Novant Health, which owns the hospital where Brown worked, has policies in place to avoid abuse, the company said. 

“Novant Health has detailed policies that demand strict adherence to all federal, state and local regulatory requirements as well as the organization’s ethical standards and policies,” the health care network said in a written statement.

“We take very seriously any allegation that the organization or any individual team member has not fully complied with or in some way violated regulatory requirements, including the mishandling of controlled substances.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.