A former University of Kentucky Hospital nurse is accused of stealing the painkiller fentanyl from the hospital by creating fake patient names, according to a Fayette County grand jury indictment.
Richard L. Edwards, 36, of Lexington was indicted Monday on 22 counts of criminal falsification of medical records and one count of theft. Each count is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison. Edwards had no comment Tuesday when contacted by phone.
The falsifications occurred in August, the indictment said, and a UK spokeswoman said in an email that Edwards was “separated” from the hospital on Sept. 9.
Edwards was a registered nurse who worked in the emergency department. A complaint warrant said Edwards “created fake patient names and withdrew fentanyl” from a machine that dispenses medicines to restricted personnel. The machine logs who withdrew medications, the amount dispensed, and the dates and times of withdrawals.
The value of the stolen medication totaled $1,052.34, the warrant said. Fentanyl is a legal drug that is 40 to 50 times stronger than street-level heroin, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Ryan Pearcy, a pharmacy compliance coordinator who audits the machine’s medication withdrawals, said he learned that Edwards reported to work one day “under the influence of an unknown substance,” the warrant said. Co-workers informed supervisors about his behavior, and Edwards tested positive for a controlled substance, the warrant said.
Pearcy discovered the fake patient names and the amount of fentanyl that was released to Edwards. University of Kentucky Police were then informed about Edwards’ actions, the warrant said.
Pearcy is listed as the witness who testified before the Fayette County grand jury.
Edwards was arrested Nov. 9 and was held in the Fayette County jail, but he was released after posting $1,000 of a $10,000 bond.
The status of Edwards’ nursing license could not be immediately determined through the Kentucky Board of Nursing in Louisville. The board won’t comment on the status of a license if a nurse remains under investigation.
Edwards is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 3 in Fayette Circuit Court.