Former nurse used painkillers, then replaced liquid with saline
A federal jury found a Sandy man, who formerly worked as a nurse, guilty of tampering with painkillers pre-loaded in syringes for patient use. They say he used the medication himself and replaced it with saline solution, potentially leaving patients with watered-down medication.
Nathan Pehrson, 41, worked on a surgical and trauma unit at Utah hospital owned by Intermountain Healthcare when prosecutors say the crimes took place.
Prosecutors said in 2018, Pehrson took hydromorphone, also known as Dilaudid, Exalgo or Hydrostat, out of pre-loaded syringes for his own use. Then, they said he replaced the missing medication with saline solution. Next, he returned the syringes with much less of the painkiller inside for other medical workers to use on patients.
The Drug Enforcement Agency considers hydromorphone a “potent schedule II opioid analgesic drug.”
Prosecutors say he made false statements to a Food and Drug Administration investigator. The jury found him guilty on that count as well.
“Today’s guilty verdicts are proof that healthcare providers will be held accountable for stealing, using, or tampering with opioid pain medications meant for patients that are suffering, Martinez said in the news release. “The opioid epidemic has many faces, and no one is immune from the problems that we face in society with drug addiction. I comment the hospital staff who reported the defendant’s illegal activity to federal law enforcement.”
Prosecutors filed the original charges in 2019, but the case went through multiple delays until the jury verdict on Thursday.
A sentencing date was not immediately available. Intermountain Healthcare declined to comment on the case.Arrests Drug Tampering Drug Theft Healthcare Diversion Hydromorphone Opioid Crisis Patient Harm Provider Arrest