Nurse’s addiction meant some hospital pain medicine syringes contained just saline, Fla. says

A Jacksonville registered nurse has had her license restricted after possibly clogging toilets at one hospital with syringes and definitely swapping pain medication for saline at another.

The Florida Department of Health dropped an Emergency Restriction Order (ERO) on Taniko Hampton’s license Friday. Hampton’s gone into a drug court pretrial intervention program to satisfy two Duval County Circuit Court cases, each charging her with one count of obtaining a controlled substance.

Hampton’s arrest affidavit says the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office first talked to her in February 2018 after Baptist Health Jacksonville’s Director of Pharmacy ran an audit of the Accudose automated medication dispensing cabinet. It said Hampton was giving patients “far more” IVs of morphine, hydromorphone and oxycodone than her peers working with similar patients.

And there was a December 2017 incident, when maintenance workers had to deal with a clogged toilet in a nurses-only area during Hampton’s shift. The problem wasn’t gastrointestinal, but syringes.

Hampton told JSO investigators she’d heard about the toilet, but pleaded ignorance. She explained away her IV usage with patients as the patients prefer the IV and it has a faster effect. Besides, she said, since a serious car accident in 2015, she’d been prescribed pain pills monthly and never uses them all. She doesn’t need to swipe pain drugs.

But JSO investigators were back at Hampton’s home in August after Jacksonville Memorial Hospital staff discovered Hampton had been taking drugs from the automated system there.

The Department of Health’s ERO said, “Beginning on July 1, 2018, and continuing through Aug. 8, 2018, Ms. Hampton removed multiple full syringes of hydromorphone from a Pyxis MedStation at Memorial, injected the hydromorphone into herself, refilled the empty syringes with saline, and returned the syringes to the Pyxis MedStation.”

Memorial staff noticed track marks on Hampton’s arms. Hampton was arrested on Aug. 9.

The ERO said her drug screen showed hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone, none of which Hampton was prescribed. During her evaluation by an addiction doctor, Hampton admitted to stealing opioids and shooting them up, being unable to stop and even shooting hydromorphone the day she was arrested.

Still, Hampton didn’t enter a treatment program or, following that, a contract with Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN), a monitoring system for nurses with issues, including substance abuse problems. So, the Department of Health filed a three-count Administrative Complaint against Hampton’s license and has restricted her from practicing as a nurse until she’s cleared by IPN or an IPN-approved doctor.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.