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Nurse in western Finland charged with stealing dying child’s drugs, replacing with water

A nurse who worked in the western Finland town of Kokkola is facing a raft of charges for stealing powerful pain and sleep medication from a three-year-old in end-of-life care. The prosecutor alleged that the nurse, who worked at the family’s home, replaced the medication with water and used the drugs personally.

Kuvassa osa valtion virastotalon opaskylttiä. Teksti Käräjäoikeus näkyy.
Image: Jukka-Pekka Tyhtilä / Yle

A Kokkola nurse has been charged with stealing pain medication from young child in palliative care two years ago. At the time of the alleged crime, the nurse had been working in the three-year-old child’s home providing care.

The nurse is believed to have swapped morphine prescribed as pain relief for the child with water and used the morphine personally. The prosecution said that the theft occurred on at least 10 occasions during a two-month period.

The nurse is also accused of stealing medicines classified as narcotics as well as sleeping pills.

The accused has admitted to taking the medication and to substituting the morphine for water. The defendant also confessed to assault.

Prosecutor: An extremely cruel offence

According to the prosecutor, the crimes were committed in a particularly callous manner because as a healthcare professional, the nurse responsible for providing care caused an immobile and terminally ill child unnecessary pain and suffering. The child experienced extreme pain and muscle spasms and had difficulty breathing.

The prosecutor described the offences as aggravated since the child suffered life-threatening withdrawal symptoms because of the reduced dosage of the medication.

On Friday the nurse was charged in the Central Ostrobothnia District Court with offences including aggravated assault, drug abuse crimes and larceny.

The caregiver was also charged with traffic endangerment and driving under the influence. The prosecution called for a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for the offences.

The court case was first reported by local news organisation KP24 and commercial broadcaster MTV.

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