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Nurse Accused of Drug Theft

July 16, 2008

By Suzanne Ulbrich, The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.

Jul. 16–The State Bureau of Investigation has charged a licensed practical nurse of stealing drugs from Onslow Memorial Hospital while employed there.

April Lenora Locklear, 35, of Newbold Road in Jacksonville, was arrested Monday by SBI Special Agent Cecil Cherry and charged with six felony counts of trafficking by possession, one count of possession of hydromorphone, a schedule II controlled substance, and one count of embezzlement of a controlled substance by employee of a registrant.

She was placed under a $100,000 secured bond in the Onslow County Jail.

According to warrants, Locklear is accused of embezzling 463 ampules of hydromorphone (opium) for her own use from the hospital’s Pyxis med station drug dispensing machine without legal authorization. She was also charged with possession of more than four dosage units of injectable hydromorphone.

Jenna Martin, chief nursing officer for Onslow Memorial Hospital, said the Pyxis machine is used as a safety system for dispensing all medications by front-line clinical providers, and the automated machine serves as a control of medication inventories. She said on the evening of June 4, a nurse was pulling medications from the machine and noticed seven ampules of hydromorphone were missing and reported it to hospital authorities.

“That’s the advantage of the Pyxis machine; it keeps tract of all the medications. Within an hour after (Locklear) left we were able to proceed with appropriate administration interventions,” Martin said. “I was notified and the hospital performed due diligence. We contacted all the external regulatory agencies according to policy and procedure including the board of nursing. Our medication administrator contacted SBI.”

Martin said the investigation by SBI and the hospital revealed the drugs were taken in moderation over a significant period of time, but the hospital does not know how long a period of time.

“We contacted Locklear — she came to the hospital of her own free will and returned the seven ampules. After discovering a discrepancy of that nature the person has to be relieved of duty,” Martin said. “Until that night we had no reason to suspect anything, she had nothing on her disciplinary record at all.”

Martin said Locklear was employed at the hospital as a certified nursing assistant in June 2005, then went to school and received her LPN. She has been an LPN at the hospital for about a year and a half.

Contact Topsail area reporter Suzanne Ulbrich at sulbrich@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8466. Visit www.jdnews.com to comment on this report.

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