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A nurse has been stealing painkillers intended for Iowa hospital patients for years, the FBI says

Federal authorities say an Iowa woman, while working as a nurse, stole painkillers from her hospital employer in a yearlong scheme.

Now, the 32-year-old woman from Sioux City, Iowa, has pleaded guilty to obtaining a controlled substance through misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge, and false statements related to health care matters.

She is charged with using fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone and hydrocodone, according to an Aug. 30 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa.

The nurse began stealing the drugs on April 11, 2020, and continued until August 15, 2022, according to court records.

Her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

Authorities said they would deregister the controlled substances for patient use, but they were actually for personal use. According to court records, she failed to fill out proper paperwork and otherwise falsified documents.

If she pleads guilty, she faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release, the press release said.

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According to a 2007 study, as many as 15% of medical workers will abuse drugs or alcohol during their careers, according to the American Addiction Centers.

“Doctors and nurses are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, with very high rates of abuse common to opioid narcotics such as fentanyl,” the AAC said.

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