Former nurse ordered to complete drug program amid painkiller scheme
Published - 08/24/15 - 06:30 AM | 3264 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A federal judge on Aug. 21 ordered a former nurse at the La Jolla Women’s Surgery Center to complete a six-month residential drug treatment program after she pleaded guilty to siphoning off a painkiller used to treat patients.

Sarah Elizabeth Martin, 25, of San Diego, was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service under terms of three years' probation granted by U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino.

Martin, who according to court records checked into the drug program on June 15, is continuing with that program. She was fined $1,100, and no jail time was ordered. She was ordered to pay $270.29, which represents the amount of the drug that was taken.

Martin worked at the clinic, at 9850 Genesee Ave., from October of 2014 to March 24, 2015 as a registered nurse. Part of her responsibilities involved administering a generic drug for Demerol to patients, but she took some of the drug and replaced it with a saline solution. Demerol is a narcotic used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson said that there was no evidence any patient was harmed from receiving the diluted painkiller. It was estimated that the adulterated drug was administered to between 50 and 250 patients.

Martin’s attorney, Dana Grimes, wrote in court documents that Martin suffers from fibromyalgia, a difficult ailment involving fatigue. Grimes wrote that Martin began the drug siphoning in January after her fourth week of daily migraines.

Grimes wrote that Martin had a long history of illness and pain, starting with gastroesophageal reflux while in the fifth grade.

Martin could have received a maximum sentence of three years in federal prison. She pleaded guilty on May 28 to adulteration of a drug held for sale. Both sides agreed Martin should receive the six-month drug treatment program as a sentence instead of jail.

Martin admitted she removed the drug from vials with a syringe, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She glued the caps back on the vials with the intent to mislead others that the vials had not been touched. The Food and Drug Administration investigated the case.

– Neal Putnam

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