Dying veterans didn’t get pain medication because nurse stole their doses, feds say

Julia Marnin | The Charlotte Observer (TNS)

A registered nurse in charge of caring for critically ill veterans stole their pain medications and consumed the doses while working in an intensive care unit, according to federal prosecutors.

Instead of giving the correct amount of fentanyl, hydromorphone and oxycodone prescribed to her patients, Tara Severino would ingest some, or all, of the doses at the West Haven VA Medical Center in Connecticut, court documents say.

At least three veterans were dying — including one man Severino volunteered to care for in his final days — and didn’t get the medication meant to ease their pain, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, Severino repeatedly gave fentanyl to a 39-year-old man who felt no pain because he was brain dead, prosecutors wrote in Severino’s plea agreement.

Over nine days, Severino “introduced fentanyl into (his) body” 19 times “so that she could divert some for herself,” the plea agreement says.

Severino did so after saying she witnessed the man have a seizure and that she knew he was in pain, according to prosecutors.

On June 18, Severino, 58, of West Haven pleaded guilty to obtaining controlled substances by fraud or subterfuge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced in a news release.

Her defense attorney didn’t immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on June 20.

Severino worked at the West Haven VA center from Jan. 1, 2023, to July 31, 2023, according to her plea agreement.

The U.S. Attorney’s office is advising:

“If you or someone you know may have been victimized by the actions of … Tara Severino while she was employed at the VA, please contact Special Agent Abraham Raymond at (202) 262-2337 or abraham.raymond@va.gov.”

Nurse tries to hide drug diversion

Severino, “to cover up her crimes,” lied in VA medical records and tracking systems about the medications she was supposed to give to her patients, prosecutors said.

On some occasions, she ingested the “waste” of a medication after giving part of the substance to a patient, according to prosecutors.

In these instances, she’d claim the substances were “properly disposed of,” prosecutors said.

Related Articles

Crime and Public Safety |

What’s in your go bag? Pack these essentials for summer emergencies

Crime and Public Safety |

Battle of the experts: Trump legal backers facing off against government over special counsel’s ‘legitimacy’

Crime and Public Safety |

Post fire containment now at 61% as temperatures rise in Gorman area

Crime and Public Safety |

Assault suspect found dead after 17-hour Tarzana standoff

Crime and Public Safety |

An unregistered car on the roads is sometimes OK

The treatment plans of two dying veterans, who were “receiving end-of-life ‘comfort measures,’” were affected when Severino ingested their pain medications instead of administering them, prosecutors wrote in Severino’s plea agreement.

Since Severino claimed in medical records that they received their prescribed hydromorphone and fentanyl, other members of the VA staff were under the impression the doses weren’t working for both patients, according to the plea agreement.

A third veteran, who wasn’t Severino’s patient until she volunteered to take care of him before his death, didn’t receive pain medication in his final days because she similarly stole it, according to the plea agreement.

Severino is facing up to four years in prison after entering a guilty plea, prosecutors said. She is set to be sentenced on Sept. 12.

©2024 The Charlotte Observer. Visit at charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *