Elkin Nurse Accused in Theft of Fentanyl From Hospital After Husband Overdoses: SBI

Fentanyl & First Responders: What's the Risk?

SURRY CO., N.C. -- An Elkin nurse has been arrested for stealing vials of Fentanyl from the hospital she was working at, according the the State Bureau of Investigation.

Investigators arrested Hayley Lammon Brown, 28, Monday.  She was working at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, but has since been terminated.  The N.C. Board of Nursing also suspended her nursing license.

This started back in April when Elkin Police were called to her home for a possible overdose involving her husband.  While investigating, police found several vials of the stolen Fentanyl.  Sgt. Joseph Johnson handled several vials of the Fentanyl and had to be hospitalized because he touched the drug with his bare hands.  The SBI says Sgt. Johnson made a complete recovery.

First responders coming in contact with Fentanyl has been an increasing concern.  The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services put out a fact sheet this week offering guidelines as to how first responders should approach scenes that could have Fentanyl.  The best way to protect themselves is to wear gloves.

"It’s definitely more potent when it’s ingested or shot up through syringes," explains Captain Tara Tucker with Forsyth County EMS.  "Physical contact is a lower risk factor, but as first responders people should be wearing their gloves when they’re going into those types of scenes."

Capt. Tucker says Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroine and about 50-100 times stronger than morphine - and that's just the kind that's regulated by the FDA.

Fentanyl is used in clinical settings as a painkiller, particularly for those who have undergone surgery.  But then there's the Fentanyl that's made illegally.  Capt. Tucker says the unregulated drug typically comes to the United States from China or Mexico, and it's cheaper than heroin. That's the kind that's unpredictable, and the kind that's most likely to cause harm to users or anyone who comes in contact.

"Since it's not regulated by the FDA, the potency is unknown," she explains.  "You never know what substance you're getting."

As for the the case with the nurse, Brown was charged with one felony count of Embezzlement of a Controlled Substance by Employee and one misdemeanor count of Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer.

She was released on $5,000 bond.

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