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.

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

U.S. Army aviation officials have launched an effort to restore full air assault capability to the 101st Airborne Division — a capability the Screaming Eagles have been without since 2015.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump belittled his former defense secretary, James Mattis, by characterizing him as the "world's most overrated general," according to a Washington Post report published Wednesday.

The account from numerous officials came during an afternoon closed door meeting with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Wednesday. In the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly brought up dissenting views towards the president's decision to withdraw the vast majority of roughly 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria.

Read More Show Less

Retired two-star Navy. Adm. Joe Sestak is the highest ranking — and perhaps, least known — veteran who is trying to clinch the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Sestak has decades of military experience, but he is not getting nearly as much media attention as fellow veterans Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Another veteran, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has dropped out of the race.

Read More Show Less

After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.

But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.

Read More Show Less