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Former hospital worker who tampered with drug vials gets prison sentence

A 27-year-old former operating room technician is headed to prison for diluting vials of morphine and sedatives while he worked at Oak Hill Hospital.

U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced Justin Brian Horan on Thursday to four years and five months for tampering with 17 vials of morphine and six vials of Versed, a sedative.

The U.S. Attorney's Office gives this account:

Horan worked at Oak Hill, in Spring Hill, from 2003 until May 1, 2008. About a week after his last day, hospital staffers discovered vials of drugs that had been diluted with saline. In some cases, the drugs that would have been used to calm patients and ease their pain were about 10 percent of their original strength.

Horan later admitted to using syringes to remove morphine and Versed from unused vials found in anesthesia boxes stored in the operating room pharmacy. He then refilled emptied vials with saline, glued the lids back on with a surgical adhesive called Dermabond and returned the vials to the pharmacy.

After hospital staffers discovered that the vials had been tampered with, authorities were notified, said Oak Hill spokeswoman J.C. Sadler. No patients were given the diluted drugs, Sadler said.

Horan initially was arrested in June 2008, accused of stealing blank prescription pads from Oak Hill and forging prescriptions to obtain 240 oxycodone pills. That investigation led to his arrest in December 2008 on two counts of tampering with a consumer product.

Horan, of Ocala, pleaded guilty last June. Had he been convicted on all charges, he faced a maximum penalty of more than 40 years in prison.

He was described as an "addict" in court records, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Horan admitted that he acted with reckless disregard for others, and extreme indifference to the risk of bodily injury to others," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

In a separate federal case, District Judge James S. Moody Jr. last month sentenced Horan to two years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The sentences will run concurrently.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. On Twitter: @TMarreroTimes or @TB_Times.

Former hospital worker who tampered with drug vials gets prison sentence 12/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 21, 2012 5:58pm]
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