Nurse charged with stealing morphine from patients, replacing it with food coloring


A nurse from Lexington is facing charges of stealing morphine from patients and replacing it with water and blue food coloring.

Abigail Hall, 50, a registered nurse working at Signature HealthCARE at Heritage Hall Rehab and Wellness Center, allegedly told authorities that she had been stealing the pain medication since January.

According to a complaint warrant, an officer of the Lawrenceburg Police Department was dispatched to the Heritage Hall on Aug. 27 for a report of an employee leaving intoxicated. Hall was arrested after the officer conducted a traffic stop on her vehicle and performed a DUI investigation, according to the warrant.

Around the time the officer conducted the sobriety test, another Heritage Hall nurse called the Lawrenceburg 911 Center, reporting that around 30 mL of morphine had gone missing and that someone found the top of a morphine bottle in a bathroom that Hall had just spent considerable time in. The nurse also said she found Hall’s backpack near one of the facility’s dumpsters.

Another officer located the backpack and brought it to the traffic stop. Police found seven syringes filled with blue liquid medication, several used syringes, three bottles of sodium chloride, four scopolamine patches used for treating nausea, a vial of cefepime used for treating bacterial infections, and a tube of blue food coloring. The bottles did not have prescription labels or patient names on them. Through investigation, the officers concluded that the drugs were stolen from Heritage Hall.

The warrant states that, during the search, Hall asked, “do you want me to tell you the truth?” While being read her Miranda rights, Hall allegedly claimed that the syringes contained the morphine stolen from Heritage Hall.

Hall also allegedly said that she had taken a dose of morphine while caring for patients that night, because she “wanted to kill herself.”

Hall began experiencing chest pains. While being taken to Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Hall allegedly admitted that she also took Percocet and phenergan, also used for pain treatment, while on her shift.

“Ms. Hall also advised that she had taken the morphine and replaced it with tap water and blue food coloring. Ms. Hall advised that she had been conducting this unlawful act since January,” the complaint warrant said.

Hall is charged with 21 counts of wanton endangerment, one count for each of the patients she oversaw while intoxicated on her shift. Hall is also charged with: three counts for the neglect or abuse of an adult, one for each of the patients she allegedly stole the morphine from; three counts of tampering with physical evidence for replacing the morphine with water and blue-food coloring; one count of knowingly posing as a nurse, because her Kentucky medical license is expired; eight counts of theft of prescription drugs; seven counts of first-degree possession of controlled substances; seven counts of theft of controlled substances; one count of possessing drug paraphernalia; and one count of failure to signal.

“The safety and well-being of our residents and stakeholders is our top priority at Signature HealthCARE,” spokesperson Ann Bowden Wilder said in a statement. “We commend our dedicated staff at Heritage Hall for reacting quickly in this matter, and contacting the appropriate authorities.” Wilder said Signature HealthCARE will continue to work with authorities during the investigation.

As of Sept. 2, Hall is being held at Shelby County Detention Center.


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