VA hospice nurse arrested for allegedly stealing morphine from her dying patients

The cap and morphine allegedly used by Kathleen Noftle. (U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts)

A former Veterans Affairs hospice nurse was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing morphine from her dying patients at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, was arrested and charged on Sept. 18 with one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, and another count of tampering with a consumer product, according a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Between Jan. 13 and 15, 2017, Noftle allegedly used her position as a hospice nurse to obtain doses of morphine that were meant for dying veterans under her care.

According to the government, Noftle "admitted to federal agents that she mixed water from a sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to patients orally."

Noftle then allegedly ingested the remainder of the diluted drug.

A federal investigation revealed that by diluting the morphine and then administering the drug to her patients, one veteran experienced increased difficulty breathing, which led to suffering in his final days.

The investigation also found that prior to working at the Bedford Veterans Affairs hospital, Noftle had resigned from her position as a nurse at another hospital due to "her failure to follow appropriate procedures when wasting narcotics on 60 occasions," according the government.

In a statement to Task & Purpose, the director for the Bedford VA hospital confirmed that Noftle was fired and the allegations were reported to the VA Office of Inspector General, but the hospital did not provide specifics on when she was terminated, or when the VA OIG was notified of the allegations.

"I want to express my sincere apologies to family and friends of any Veteran affected by the actions of this individual," Joan Clifford, the director for the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital told Task & Purpose. "These allegations run counter to VA's culture, and is why we terminated this individual and reported her behavior to VA's independent inspector general."

If found guilty of both charges, Noftle could face up to 14 years in prison, four years of supervised release, and fines as high as $500,000.

The charge of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, comes with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, in addition to three years of supervised release, and a fine of as much as $250,000. The second charge – tampering with a consumer product – carries with it a possible sentence of no more than four years in prison, one year of supervised release, and another fine for up to $250,000.

A probable cause hearing for Noftle has been set for Oct. 16, according to CNN.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft with the 122nd Fighter Wing, Fort Wayne, Indiana, sits on the flight line during Southern Strike, Feb. 11, 2020, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sergeant Rita Jimenez)

What's cooler than a single missile? How about a missile with a high-powered machine gun attached?

That's exactly what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on, according to budget documents — and it wants $13 million to make it a reality.

Read More
Barrett's bolt-action Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) system (Courtesy photo)

The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.

Read More
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force officials are investigating the death of a man near the north gate of the U.S. Air Force Academy on Saturday night after the NHL Stadium Series hockey game between the Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings, military officials said Sunday.

Read More
(Navy photo / Chief Mass Communication Specialist Paul Seeber)

The Citizens of Ebey's Reserve (COER) is asking a federal judge to require the Navy to roll back the number of EA-18G Growler practice flights at Outlying Field Coupeville to pre-2019 levels until a lawsuit over the number of Growler flights is settled.

COER and private citizen Paula Spina filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Thursday.

According to the motion, since March 2019 the Navy has increased the number of Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and shifted most of its Growler operations to Outlying Field Coupeville, which is near the Reserve and the town of Coupeville.

"The result is a nearly fourfold increase in Growler flights in that area. Now the overflights subject residents in and near Coupeville to extreme noise for several hours of the day, day and night, many days of the week," said the court document.

Read More
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron taxis down the runway during Sentry Aloha 20-1 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

A 26-year-old man died after he failed to surface from waters off Molokai while participating in a scuba diving tour over the weekend.

He has been identified as Duane Harold Parsley II and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, according to the Maui Police Department.

Read More