Nurse stole patients' morphine and replaced it with water

A nurse was discharged for stealing liquid morphine from patients, taking it herself, and then replacing it with water.

Barbara Moore admitted taking the drug on four separate occasions while working as a nurse at a nursing home treating and rehabilitating patients with brain injuries, a professional court heard.

She was also convicted of stealing the opiate used to relieve severe pain.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said she exposed vulnerable patients to an unjustified risk of harm by consuming the morphine intended for them.

It was said that if Ms. Moore’s thefts had not been discovered, residents of the Castel Froma nursing home in Leamington Spa, Warks, would have been given water to treat serious health problems.

The panel added that her dishonesty was “repeated and calculated” and that she had “violated her duty to be honest”.

The panel heard that Ms. Moore’s actions were discovered by her employers after a secret inspection of her liquid morphine revealed that the bottles had been diluted four times with water.

On every occasion, the dilution turned out to be during the night shift when Mrs. Moore was the only nurse.

The nursing home also checked the video surveillance that covered the drug cabinet area and it allegedly revealed that Ms. Moore was going to the drug cabinet.

Medical records were reviewed, which showed the patient was not being given any medication when she went to the cabinet. The nurse was then examined and allowed to consume the morphine and try to hide her actions, the panel heard.

Ms. Moore, who had a long nursing career behind her, was then fired from her position at Castel Froma in June 2019.

The panel heard that she was convicted of theft in December 2019 by the Coventry and Warwickshire Magistrate’s Court.

The panel decided: “Ms. Moore had exposed the residents in her care to an unjustified risk of harm when she [morphine] intended for her during the shift as a nurse.

“If Ms. Moore’s misconduct had gone undetected, the residents of Castel Froma would have been given water instead of morphine to treat their health problems.

“In addition, the panel found that Ms. Moore had acted in a manner that would have discredited the nursing profession and believed her to be a violation of fundamental principles of the nursing profession, particularly through dishonesty.”

It added, “Ms. Moore had violated her duty of openness and her dishonesty was repeated and calculated and directly related to the care of residents.”

The panel stripped Ms. Moore from the nursing register and issued an 18-month temporary suspension order that will remain in effect until the deletion order takes effect.

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