A nurse convicted of tampering with a dying hospice patient’s morphine has been sentenced to 20 months prison time in connection to the crime.
On Jan. 27, 2018, Danielle Works, 42, of Stafford Springs, Connecticut, was working at Governor’s Center in Westfield, Massachusetts, when she skimmed morphine from a bottle meant for the patient and diluted it with another substance, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Works ingested the morphine and became “significantly impaired while providing care to patients at the nursing facility,” according to federal prosecutors. She was later found slumped over in a chair during her second shift at the medical facility.
Words was charged in October 2020 with one count of tampering with a consumer product and pleaded guilty last March.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell noted in a statement that “it is hard to imagine a more vulnerable victim” than the patient “who received diluted morphine in her final hours of life.”
Works “caused a patient in her care to suffer needlessly, and she put lives at serious risk by working while under the influence of narcotics,” Mendell continued, insisting, “Health care professionals who do such things warrant federal prosecution.”
Works became addicted to opioids after getting into a car crash and suffering extensive injuries. She told the court at sentencing she had stolen drugs from other facilities where she worked and was fired multiple times but always easily able to find new jobs, masslive.com reported.
“I’m an addict and will always be an addict,” she said. “This battle is day by day. Sometimes hour by hour. And I don’t think jail will change that for me.”
Works’ attorney said his client has now been clean from drugs for three years.
After serving her sentence at the federal women’s prison in Danbury, Connecticut, Works will be placed on three years of supervised release. She had faced up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.