Moses Lake nurse gets 18 months in prison for tampering with morphine

SPOKANE, Wash. — A former Moses Lake nurse will spend 18 months in federal prison for tampering with morphine medication.

Esther Rae Tuller, 41, tampered with opioid narcotics while she was working at the Confluence Health Clinic between August 2019 and April 2020.

She used syringes to remove morphine from at least 17 vials and then ingested it as part of her own addiction. She then replaced the morphine with a saline solution and attempted to glue the caps back onto the vials to make them appear intact.

Before Tuller was arrested, at least one Confluence Health patient who was prescribed morphine had to be rushed to the emergency room. That patient continued to be in excruciating pain after receiving only saline from what was supposed to be a morphine vial.

During Tuller’s sentencing, the judge noted that she not only stole medications but put patients at risk.

“While Ms. Tuller’s addiction to opioids is both tragic and far too common, her decision to take advantage of her access to medical-grade morphine was an egregious breach of trust.  It is deeply troubling that she compounded her misconduct by secretly replacing that morphine with saline in vials that she knew would be distributed to patients, recklessly endangering patients who rely on the integrity of our health care system every day,” said United States Attorney Vanessa Waldref continued. “I want to especially commend the stellar investigative work by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Group and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who abuse their position of trust and endanger patients.”

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