2 Colorado nurses convicted of stealing painkillers from hospital patients in separate cases

Hospital Painkiller Shortage
Posted at 11:16 AM, Aug 28, 2021

DENVER — Two nurses who worked in Colorado hospitals were convicted in separate cases of stealing pain medication from patients, The United States Department of Justice announced Saturday.

Katie Muhs, 34, of Littleton, was sentenced Friday to three months of probation for her felony conviction for illegally obtaining fentanyl through fraud and deception while on the job as a registered nurse in a hospital’s intensive care unit.

Alicia Nickel-Tangeman, 44, formerly of Woodland Park, entered guilty pleas Thursday in federal court to four counts of obtaining controlled substances using fraud and deception while she was on the job as a registered nurse at a hospital in Colorado.

According to a department news release, Muhs admitted that between June 2019 and September 2019, she stole fentanyl by removing it from the IV bags of ventilated patients using a syringe. She also admitted to stealing leftover fentanyl from vials of the drug after administering it to patients.

Muhs told investigators that on September 8, 2019, she removed a bag of fentanyl from the automated medication control machine at the hospital under a different nurse’s login credentials. She then removed fentanyl from the IV bag for personal use.

Nickel-Tangeman is accused of stealing hydromorphone pain medicine from patients by accessing the rooms of patients she was not assigned to care for and falsely told patients that she was conducting a “study” on the effectiveness of pain medication pumps, which deliver pain medicine to patients on demand.

Federal prosecutors said Nickel-Tangeman lied about her actions to law enforcement and produced fraudulent emails to try to prove she was conducting a study on behalf of a university.

Nickel-Tangeman will be sentenced on Nov. 30.