Miami News

Florida nurse found guilty of switching fentanyl vials with saline

She used the fentanyl vials to inject herself while patients got saline solutions

In the wake of the Fentanyl epidemic in Florida, a former nurse at an outpatient surgery clinic in Florida was found guilty of taking fentanyl and switching it out for saline. On Tuesday, 54-year-old Catherine Shannon Dunton admitted in a Fort Piece federal court that she had tampered with a consumer item. She might be sentenced to up to ten years in jail at her trial in late June.

More on what the nurse did

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, Dunton took fentanyl that was meant to be used in treating pain for patients and administered it to herself. Prosecutors claim that Dunton started self-injecting fentanyl in February 2022. She allegedly switched out the opioid medication for saline solution in approximately 450 vials, returned them to the clinic, and used them in outpatient surgeries. She pled guilty to the charge of fiddling with a consumer product.

After being hired in 2021, she began working as a circulating nurse in Jensen Beach, Martin County. She started stealing fentanyl in February and April of 2022. According to the state health department's files, her license was stopped in August 2018 due to an emergency order.

A fentanyl vial and tablets

What happens if fentanyl vials are tampered with

An FDA anesthesiologist was called as a witness by the prosecution to testify that patients undergoing surgery who were given diluted fentanyl were not in a safe condition. Officials have noted that vulnerable individuals who do not receive proper pain treatment are at an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. There is also the possibility of infection either before or following an operation if the vial has been tampered with.

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