Nurse accused of stealing medication from veterans in Lake City, VA

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A local nurse is accused of stealing from veterans.

Action News Jax has been looking into this case for several weeks. We got our hands on part of the 89-page investigation into her actions.

The pages detail how nurse Michelle Lynn Harris took the drugs, including a month long stretch during which she removed more than 30 times the amount of drugs normally taken by nurses for patients. It all happened while she was supposed to be taking care of veterans in Lake City.

As a result, Harris’ nursing license has been suspended after she pleaded guilty to a felony for taking narcotics by fraud or forgery.

Harris was working as a registered nurse at the Lake City VA Medical Center.

“My father-in-law has been there several times. It’s pretty scary to be honest with you,” said Lake City resident Mark Rutter.

According to the investigation report, in May 2016 the medical center’s head nurse noticed drugs had been tampered with at the medical center. Department of Veterans Affairs police got involved and as records were checked, the investigation revealed on several occasions Harris had taken more drugs than needed for patients.

“I think it’s irresponsible and kind of selfish on her part,” said Lake City resident Jasmine Bray.

On May 17, 2016, records showed, Harris removed 12 5-milliliter cups of oxycodone. Only two of those cups were given to patients.

The investigation also found during a 30-day period, the average hydromorphone removal per nurse, excluding Harris, was three doses. During that same time period, Harris removed 95 doses. Only one of those was recorded as going to a patient.

“Oh my. … That is ridiculous,” Bray said.

Harris was interviewed by investigators and admitted to taking the drugs to self-medicate. According to her sworn statement, she would take the drugs to help her deal with pain so she could do her job because she is “in so much pain from arthritis.” Harris also said she never sold the drugs to anyone else and only used them while at work often taking them in the bathroom. She said, “I still my job to the best of my ability.”

In her statement, Harris also said she knew it was wrong and out of control and she wants help. Action News Jax reached out to the VA for a response about this incident.

Originally posted on CBS Action News Jax

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