Former Utah nurse found guilty of taking painkiller from hospital

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In this Friday, June 1, 2018, photo, syringes of the opioid painkiller fentanyl are shown in the inpatient pharmacy at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. Amid the nation’s opioid epidemic, hospitals are struggling to get widely used injected pain medicines because of ongoing supply shortages. The shortages affect just about every corner of the hospital, from the operating room and emergency department. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Sandy man and former nurse has been found guilty of tampering with opioid painkillers.

Court officials say 41-year-old Nathan Pehrson, while working as a nurse at an Intermountain Healthcare facility on a surgical and trauma ward, diverted hydromorphone from pre-loaded syringes for his personal use.

He then replaced the pain medication with a saline solution and returned the syringes with greatly reduced amounts of hydromorphone for medical use by other hospital staff.

A federal jury in the District of Utah convicted Pehrson of three counts related to fraudulently obtaining and tampering with the painkiller, a schedule II opioid drug used to treat patients with moderate to severe pain.

Court officials report Pehrson was also convicted of making false statements to a special agent from the Food and Drug Administration about his actions while under investigation.

“Today’s guilty verdicts are proof that healthcare providers will be held accountable for stealing, using, or tampering with opioid pain medications meant for patients that are suffering,” says Acting United States Attorney Andrea T. Martinez. “The opioid epidemic has many faces, and no one is immune from the problems that we face in society with drug addiction. I commend the hospital staff who reported the defendant’s illegal activity to federal law enforcement.”

It is unclear when Pehrson will make his next court appearance.

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