DENVER — An Arapahoe County woman pleaded guilty Monday to stealing fentanyl meant for patients at Parker Adventist Hospital, where she worked as a nurse.
Jessica Sharman, 35, pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product in U.S. District Court in Denver.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, Sharman began working in the intensive care unit at Parker Adventist in January 2018. She had access to fentanyl through an automated narcotic medication dispensing device called Pyxis.
In April 2018, an audit report flagged Sharman’s access to the machine as “red” for high fentanyl use and waste for March 2018. Sharman’s high fentanyl use was also reported in February 2018.
“A review of the Pyxis access records showed a high number of ‘remove-cancel’ transactions, indicating that the defendant had accessed controlled substances from a Pyxis machine but then ‘cancelled’ the transaction, returning the drug to the locked machine,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
On April 25, 2018 — five days after the audit — Parker Adventist removed all fentanyl from its ICU. On April 26, hospital employees interviewed Sharman.
“Based in part on that interview, it was determined that the defendant was stealing fentanyl from the hospital. She allegedly withdrew the drug from fentanyl cassettes using a sterile syringe and saline flushes. She sometimes replaced the fentanyl she stole with saline, injecting the saline back into the fentanyl cassette and returning the cassette to the Pyxis machine,” the statement said.
After the interview, Sharman tested positive for fentanyl use. She was terminated the same day.
Tampering with a consumer product is a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The FDA and the DEA are involved in the case.
Sharman is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 24.