Four nurses who worked for the Lehigh Valley Health Network were arrested on the charge of stealing pain medication. Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett, says the nurses have been charged with taking prescription pain medication from the hospitals where they worked
The accused are identified as Tracy Goetter, 48, of Coopersburg, Lehigh County, a nurse in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Muhlenberg campus; Lisa Citrola, 48, of Bethlehem, a nurse in the emergency room at Muhlenberg; Christopher Evans, 31, of Breinigsville, Lehigh County, a nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Cedar Crest campus; and Krista Lichtenberger, 25, of Bethlehem, an emergency room nurse at Muhlenberg.
Corbett said, in late spring 2009, Goetter started taking waste Fentanyl in her last two weeks of work in an effort to make her own Fentanyl patches for personal use.
Corbett said that, in August 2007, Citrola began diverting significant amounts of the powerful prescription drug Dilaudid for her personal use. As Citrola’s addiction grew, Corbett said the waste was not enough to feed her addiction. She then allegedly began signing out the drug in patients’ names and using it for her personal use. According to the criminal complaint, in December 2008, Citrola started to inject herself in the bathroom at work.
Corbett said Evans began diverting Fentanyl and Midazolam once a week in May 2009, but increased to four or five times in June and then daily in July. According to the criminal complaint, other employees witnessed Evans dispose of the drug waste, but it was later determined that the waste was saline.
Corbett said Lichtenberger accessed a Pyxis machine on her day off to obtain prescription medications for her personal use A Pyxis machine is a type of vending machine nurses use to obtain medications for patients.
“Our Bureau of Narcotics Investigation agents are very active in investigating medical professionals who are illegally using prescription pain medication,” Corbett said. “It is a potentially dangerous situation if the person you trust with your medical care is under the influence of drugs.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network released the following statement in response to the arrests:
“Discovering and reporting this type of activity requires having strong medication safety and security systems in place. Every day we assess how to achieve the appropriate balance of allowing enough access to medications to properly care for patients in a timely fashion, and ensuring proper medication security measures. That’s how we were able to identify and report each of these cases to the proper authorities and work closely with them to address these matters. Each of the individuals was terminated after we learned of and investigated each case. A review of each case indicates that patient care was not compromised.”
WFMZ.com contributed to this story.