Moses Lake nurse pleads guilty to tampering with morphine

Generic syringe

MOSES LAKE, Wash. – A Moses Lake nurse had pleaded guilty to tampering with morphine medication. 

Esther Rae Tuller, 40, had access to the medication while working at Confluence Health between August 2019 and April 2020. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington said Tuller would use syringes to remove morphine and ingest them as part of her opioid addiction. She would then replace the morphine with a saline solution and attempt to glue the caps back onto the vials. 

In at least one case, a patient who was prescribed morphine had to be rushed to the emergency room. That patient was said to be in excruciating pain after receiving saline from what was supposed to be a morphine vial. 

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref. “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. She recklessly and seriously endangered the safety of patients who rely on the judgment and integrity of health care professionals every day.” 

Tuller will be sentenced in March 2022. The drug tampering charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of court supervision after release. 

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