Nurse in Bedford pleads guilty to stealing dying veterans’ morphine

Kathleen Noftle of Tewksbury worked in the hospice unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

BOSTON (AP) — A former nurse at a veterans’ hospital in Massachusetts has pleaded guilty to stealing liquid morphine intended for her dying patients and using it herself, federal prosecutors say.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, of Tewksbury, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

Noftle worked in the hospice unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford.

Noftle in January 2017 mixed tap water from the sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to her patients orally, prosecutors said. Noftle then took some of the remaining diluted solution herself, authorities said.

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In one case, prosecutors said, a veteran who received a diluted dose of morphine experienced increased difficulty breathing and increased suffering in his final days.

Noftle was arrested and charged in September 2019.

She faces up to 14 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for Feb. 24.

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