Twenty seven-year-old nurse Kelsey Mulvey of Grand Island, New York, was charged by criminal complaint with illegally obtaining controlled substances by fraud, tampering, and violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which led to at least six patients developing a rare blood infection, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York this June. 

Taking charge of the case is assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti. He stated that according to the complaint, the defendant, a former nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, used her position as a nurse to tamper with and steal vials of medication and pills, such as hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone, and oxycodone, all Schedule II controlled substances, and lorazepam, a Schedule IV controlled substance. Mulvey took the vials of medication from the Pyxis machine, an automated medication dispensing system. As a nurse at Roswell Park, she had access to the system.

Between February and June 2018, the defendant is accused of failing to properly administer medication for 81 patients.

According to a New England Journal of Medical report, six patients at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, were infected with a bacterium known as Sphingomonas paucimobilis between June and July of 2018. 

The patients affected were given antibiotics and recovered. At least three patients were reported died later, but their deaths were unrelated to the infection.

The nurse was placed on administrative leave on June 28 last year. She resigned the following month, on July 13.

If convicted, Mulvey could face up to a decade in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mulvey, according to the statement, also stole other controlled substances, such as oxycodone and lorazepam, during her time at the cancer facility.

FBI Buffalo Special-Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert said it was not the first time they had investigated and charged a health care professional who suffers from addiction.

“Accessibility to these highly sought-after drugs makes it easier for medical professionals to feed their addiction. Ms. Mulvey’s actions not only put her own health at risk, but also the wellbeing of dozens of patients,” he said.

“If we fail to take action to protect the most vulnerable among us, then we fail as a government,” he added.