Tewksbury hospice nurse charged with stealing morphine meant for dying veterans

BOSTON (WHDH) - A Tewksbury woman was arrested and charged Wednesday in federal court in Boston with stealing morphine while employed as a nurse in the hospice unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus in Bedford, authorities announced.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, is facing charges including obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, subterfuge, and tampering with a consumer product, according to United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

In January 2017, Noftle is said to have used her position as a nurse to obtain doses of morphine that were meant to be given to the veterans under her care in the hospice unit, charging documents indicate.

Noftle allegedly admitted to federal agents that she mixed water from a sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to patients orally, Lelling said in a press release. She then allegedly ingested a diluted amount of the remaining drug.

One veteran experienced increased difficulty breathing and increased suffering in his final days due to diluted morphine that was administered by Noftle, according to federal investigators.

Before taking a position at the VA medical center, investigators say Noftle had resigned from her position as a nurse at a different hospital after she failed to follow appropriate procedures when wasting narcotics on 60 occasions.

Noftle faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

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