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NY Nurse Pleads Guilty to Tampering with a Consumer Product in HIPAA Case

A former Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center nurse has pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product in a case involving fraud and HIPAA violations.

In 2018, 6 patients of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center contracted a Sphingomonas paucimobilis bloodstream infection within the space of a few weeks. An investigation found syringes of hydromorphone had been contaminated with the bacteria. The cancer center suspected a nurse had removed some of the medication and replaced it with an equal volume of water.

Kelsey Mulvey, 28, of Grand Island, NY, was placed on administrative leave in June 2018 after it was discovered she had stolen pain medication and resigned from her position at the cancer center in July 2018. Appropriate authorities were notified including the New York State Department of Health, the NYS Department of Education, Bureau of Narcotics and Tobacco Enforcement, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and  in July 2019, Kelsey was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office with tampering with a consumer product, acquiring controlled substances by fraud, and criminal violations of the HIPAA Rules.

Mulvey was accused of taking drugs such as hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone and lorazepam intended for patients, adding water to the vials to hide the theft, and placing the vials with the diluted medication into the automated medication system. She is believed to have failed to administer pain medication to 81 patients between February 2018 and June 2018.

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Mulvey admitted to accessing patient records without authorization to find patients who had been prescribed the drugs she wanted, then using the drugs, and refilling the vials with water.

Mulvey entered into a plea deal with prosecutors for one count of tampering with a consumer product, with the fraud and HIPAA violations both dropped. Under the terms of the plea deal, Mulvey will be sentenced to a maximum of 97 months in jail, have supervised release at the end of the jail term, and will be required to pay restitution to the victims. She has also had her medical license permanently revoked.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.