IN: Former Indianapolis RN charged with obtaining legend drugs by fraud

A former employee with Ascension St. Vincent Healthcare, Michele Lawson, is charged with Possession of a Narcotic Drug, Obtaining Legend Drugs by Fraud and Theft.

Lawson is accused of fraudulently calling in prescription medication in June to a CVS off East Washington Street under a doctor’s name then telling the pharmacy manager, “not to call the hospital because they were busy and may not answer.”

Lawson was fired from Ascension St. Vincent Health Care a few weeks prior.

The probable cause affidavit shows she called in Tussinonex, which is a Schedule II narcotic drug containing Hydrocodone, Chlorpheniramine Polistirex, that is also used to treat cough symptoms.

Lawson also called in Cefdinir, which is not a controlled substance but is classified as a legend drug.

A legend drug can only be distributed to patients if they have a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner, as required by state or federal law.

Investigators found that both prescriptions had the doctor’s National Provider Identifier and the number to the Ascension St. Vincent — Castleton location.

Investigation leading to termination

In April of 2023, Ascension St. Vincent — Castleton noticed a “large discrepancy in medications.” Records state, the medications are non-controlled but are monitored because of their ability to relieve symptoms associated with narcotic addiction.

Lawson was found on camera taking large amounts of medication and putting it in her pocket on numerous times.

Records state Lawson would use an automated medication management system that allows nurses and clinicians access to patient medication. The machines also dispense prescribed patient medications to the nurse or caregiver for administration to the patient.

She would then collect the medication without charting it for the patient.

In May of 2023, Ascension St. Vincent said Nurse Lawson admitted to taking the medications for herself.

In a drug screen, she tested positive for Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Hydromorphone and Benadryl.

She was placed on suspension and then fired.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Task Force Officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency partnered with Ascension St. Vincent in the investigation.

“It is a problem when you have someone who is in a position of trust as a registered nurse that are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing because there are so many good people in the healthcare profession that are there to help people do things the right way,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Gannon.

Gannon also stresses to seek help if you find yourself facing addiction.

“If someone begins misusing drugs, such as prescription medication, it can lead to problems that come with that. In a situation like this, before you start going down that path, get help if you think you need it. You only use prescription medication if you went wen to a doctor, they evaluated you, determined it was a medical necessity and determined your body could handle it,” said Gannon.

On Nov. 15, 2023, her case was filed with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The message I want to get across is we are out there. People are watching. People in healthcare profession are watching and making sure their employees are doing the right thing and when they aren’t, it is brought to our attention,” said Gannon.

Pretrial is set for December.

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Tags: Drug Diversion

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