Nurse pleads guilty to tampering with painkiller syringes at Detroit hospital

A nurse pleaded guilty to tampering with painkiller syringes while she worked at a Detroit hospital in 2020.

According to court records, Mary Cheatham, 42, of Ypsilanti, removed vials and syringes of injectable hydromorphone from the medication dispensing machines, by extracting the hydromorphone using syringes between March 2020 and August 2020.

She then replaced the saline filled vials and syringes into the medication dispensing machines. These painkiller shots were intended for patients in the DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital critical care unit.

"Patients entering a hospital must have confidence they will receive the treatment they are promised," United States Attorney Dawn Ison said. "Cheatham violated that trust and potentially exposed patients to unnecessary pain and suffering and must be held accountable for her actions."

Cheatham will be sentenced Jan. 18, 2023. She faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000

"The FDA oversees the U.S. drug supply to ensure that it is safe and effective, and those who knowingly tamper with medicines put the health of patients at risk," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Ronne G. Malham. "We will continue to protect the public health and bring to justice health care professionals who take advantage of their unique position and compromise their patients’ health and comfort by tampering with needed drugs."