Nurse accused of stealing morphine, attacking coworker

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — A nurse from Rockwood was arraigned Thursday on multiple charges after she allegedly stole morphine from a medical facility, replaced the medication with water and struck a colleague with her vehicle while fleeing the scene.

Karen Lynn Spearman, 53, is accused of removing morphine from three vials on her medical cart Wednesday morning inside the Martha T. Berry medical facility at 43533 Elizabeth Road in Mount Clemens, according to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were called to the scene just before 9 a.m. when Spearman allegedly struck another employee while fleeing the facility.

The alleged theft was discovered at the 7 a.m. shift change, facility officials said in a press release. An oncoming day shift nurse, a seven-year employee at the facility, was taking over the medical cart from Spearman, a temp agency nurse. Following protocol, the day shift employee inspected the medication and noticed leaks in the the sealed morphine vials. Upon further inspection, she found puncture holes in the vials, officials said.

The staff nurse immediately notified the administration, which investigated and found that Spearman had placed the stolen morphine into a container inside a garbage bag on her medical cart, sheriff’s officials said. The morphine vials then allegedly were re-topped with water to conceal the theft, diluting the potency of patients’ medication.

Per facility protocol, Spearman was asked by management to undergo a drug test, sheriff’s officials said. She initially consented but fled to her vehicle and struck the employee.

The employee was not injured, officials said. Spearman was arrested a short distance from the facility and transported to the Macomb County Jail.

“We are pleased the staff nurse ... discovered the potential tampering and followed established medication protocol,” facility director and administrator Jennifer Morgan said in a statement. “Her ability to follow facility protocol allowed the administration staff to act swiftly and notify the proper regulatory agencies. We are taking this matter very seriously because (our) mission and dedication is to the residents and the people we serve.”

Spearman was arraigned Thursday in 41-B District Court in Clinton Township on one count felony larceny in a building, two counts felony adulterating/misbranding drugs or medicine, and one count misdemeanor operating with a suspended license. She faces four years on the larceny charge, two years each for the drug charges and 93 days on the misdemeanor charge.

Spearman posted a $7,500 cash or surety bond and was released from custody, officials said. She is due back in court Jan. 27.

Sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate with assistance from Martha T. Berry officials.

The medical facility opened in 1950 and provides long term medical care to low-income Macomb County residents. It includes 217 beds, a 1,081-square-foot therapy room, library, cafe, beauty salon. It is the only county-owned medical care center within Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, according to the facility.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

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@HollyPFournier