Former nurse pleads not guilty to diverting and tampering morphine

John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, Boston, Mass. Photo by Chris O'Brien/BU News Service

By Stella Lorence
BU News Service

BOSTON — A former hospice nurse pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to charges related to tampering with and taking patients’ morphine doses.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, of Tewksbury, was indicted after she allegedly used her position as a nurse at a VA Medical Center in Bedford to obtain doses of morphine meant for her patients three times in one week in January 2017, according to a Department of Justice release issued last week.

Noftle is charged with one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of acquiring a controlled substance using fraud, deception and subterfuge. If convicted on both charges, Noftle could face up to 14 years in prison.

“Noftle admitted to federal agents that she mixed water from the sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to patients orally,” the release said. “It is alleged that Noftle then ingested a diluted amount of the remaining drug.”

There is at least one account of a veteran who may have experienced increased difficulty breathing and increased suffering in his final days as a result of receiving diluted morphine from Noftle, according to the release.

Before taking a position at the VA Medical Center in Bedford, Noftle resigned from her position as a nurse at the Tewksbury hospital after failing to properly dispose of narcotics on 60 different occasions, according to the release.

Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford could not be reached for comment following the court appearance Friday.

Noftle’s case will be heard again on Dec. 20. 

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