North Carolina nurse sentenced, loses license after replacing pain meds with saline

A former Fuquay-Varina, N.C. nurse was sentenced to 48 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release for tampering with painkillers for surgery patients.

Melissa Chacona, 45, worked as a nurse in a Raleigh-area surgical practice, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office. In early 2019, she extracted medication from vials of fentanyl, morphine and meperidine, which she replaced with saline. Over several months, she compromised at least 78 vials. Testing revealed the tampered vials contained less than 15 percent of the actual medication and many were rendered unsterile.

Ms. Chacona pled guilty to the charges on March 9, 2022. Her plea agreement required her to permanently surrender her nursing license.

She was also convicted at the state level for diverting medication earlier in her nursing career, according to the release.

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