A nurse who was accused of tampering with fentanyl intended for patients at a Connecticut fertility clinic has pleaded guilty, according to federal officials. They said she injected herself with the fentanyl while working at a clinic in Orange, diluted fentanyl meant for fertility clinic patients and eventually began taking the vials home.
Leonard Boyle, the acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said 49-year-old Donna Monticone, of Oxford, waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of tampering with a consumer product.
Monticone was a nurse employed by the Yale Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility clinic in Orange and she was responsible for ordering and taking inventory of narcotics, including fentanyl, which Yale physicians use during outpatient surgical procedures to anesthetize patients, according to the U.S Attorney’s office.
Officials said she started stealing fentanyl for her own use in June 2020.
She is accused of taking vials of fentanyl, removing the narcotics from the vials and replacing it with saline so that it would appear as if none of the drugs were missing, federal officials said.
An investigation found that around 75 percent of the fentanyl given to patients at the Yale REI clinic between June and October 2020 was “adulterated with saline” and some of vials had diluted fentanyl while others had no fentanyl, just saline, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In pleading guilty, Monticone admitted that she knew that the adulterated vials of fentanyl she replaced at the Yale REI clinic would be used in surgical procedures, and that the absence of an anesthetic during an outpatient procedure may cause serious bodily injury to the patient, federal officials said.
They said she would refill the vials she took home with sterile saline, bring them back to the clinic and return the saline-filled vials to the stock of fentanyl available for use during surgical procedures.
Around Nov. 1, Monticone brought around 175 vials of fentanyl that she had taken from the Yale REI clinic and discarded them in waste containers at the clinic, according to the news release from Boyle.
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Yale said in a statement that the fertility center notified patients.
"Yale has informed patients that there is no reason to believe that the nurse’s action harmed their health or the outcome of their treatment. The Fertility Center routinely uses a combination of pain medications during procedures and modifies the medications if there are signs of discomfort," the statement from Yale says.
Yale added that the university reported the nurse’s actions to law enforcement agencies and the fertility center conducted an immediate review of its management of controlled substances.
"Changes are underway in procedures, recordkeeping, and physical storage that will prevent this type of activity from happening again," the statement goes on to say.
Monticone was released on a $50,000 bond and has surrendered her nursing license.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 25.
The Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; the DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad; and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, Drug Control Division are investigating.