Nurse gets 4 years prison, loses license for swapping pain meds with saline

Former registered nurse Melissa Chacona, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., was sentenced to four years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for tampering with surgery patients' painkillers, the Justice Department said May 22.

In early 2019, Ms. Chacona, 45, who worked in a Raleigh-area surgical practice, replaced medication from vials of fentanyl, morphine and meperidine, with saline, the department said. She compromised at least 78 vials, many of which were left unsterile.

The tampered vials contained less than 15 percent of the original volume of medication, the department said.

Ms. Chacona permanently surrendered her nursing license as part of a plea agreement. She was previously convicted at the state level earlier in her career for similar charges, the department said.

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