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Nurse pleads guilty to product tampering to hide Demerol addiction
Posted by John de Leon
A 43-year-old registered nurse from Fall City pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to product tampering. She could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Drea Lynne Gibson worked as a nurse at the Plastic Surgery Center in Bellevue from 2003 and November 2008. The clinic kept drugs to treat serious pain, including meperidine ("Demerol") and fentanyl. The medications were administered to patients by anesthesiologists to alleviate pain following surgery.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Gibson began abusing Demerol by drinking the portion of the drug left over in glass ampules after some of the contents were administered to patients. As her addiction worsened, Gibson began stealing whole ampules from the Demerol box. She completed records indicating the drugs were being administered to patients.
In October and November, Gibson began breaking open and consuming the contents of Demerol ampules and refilling the ampules with saline solution. She then super-glued the ampules back together, and returned them to the Demerol box. As a result, ampules containing saline solution, secured by Super Glue, were disguised to appear as genuine Demerol ampules.
On numerous occasions in November, anesthesiologists at the clinic administered the tampered ampules to patients recovering from surgery under the belief that they were administering Demerol.
Gibson was fired by the clinic on Nov. 17 following discovery of several saline-filled tampered Demerol ampules inside the Demerol box. The Super Glue used by Gibson was found in the recovery room, along with broken Demerol ampules, and other evidence of tampering.
Prosecutors will recommend a 51-month sentence when Gibson is sentenced in September.
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