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Winston-Salem former nurse accused of replacing opioid painkiller with saline pleads guilty to charge, DOJ says

Emilee Poteat could be facing up to 10 years in prison for switching out hydromorphone for saline.
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A woman once employed by Novant Health as a nurse pleaded guilty to attempting to tamper with consumer products, according to the United States Department of Justice.

Emilee Kathryn Poteat, 32, is accused of replacing opioids with saline from July 2020 to November 2020, according to the DOJ.

Sandra J. Hairston, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, said Poteat could face up to 10 years in prison, a period of supervised release and monetary penalties.

The DOJ said Poteat opened and removed packages with vials of injectable hydromorphone from Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. They also claimed, she removed vials to switch out and consume the hydromorphone by injecting the drug into herself. They said she then replaced the used vials with tampered vials containing a saline solution, but in doing, so nurses at Novant Health might unknowingly pass the contents onto patients at the hospital.

Novant Health officials submitted possible tampered vials to Laura Pezzulo, who's a health investigator with the Virginia Department of Health. They said Poteat admitted to tampering with the injectable hydromorphone in an interview with Pezzulo.

Poteat will be sentenced at a later date.