Nurse at hospital’s ICU accused of stealing 17 bags of fentanyl

Lisa Williams

TAMPA, Fla. — An intensive care unit nurse at a west-central Florida hospital is accused of stealing 17 bags of fentanyl from the facility, authorities said.

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According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, Lisa Lindsey Williams, 55, of Lithia, was arrested on Thursday. In a news release, the sheriff’s office said that Williams faces 17 charges of grand theft of a controlled substance and 17 counts of trafficking fentanyl.

Detectives at the sheriff’s office were contacted on Dec. 12 by staff members at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, who had conducted an internal investigation. Deputies determined after their own investigation that Williams allegedly had been stealing 100-milliliter fentanyl IV bags since Oct. 2, 2023.

An investigation also revealed that Williams allegedly had been refilling the stolen IV bags with an unknown substance and put them back into circulation at the hospital, WTVT reported.

One bag has been recovered and is in the custody of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for testing, according to the television station.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is used in hospitals to treat pain, the Tampa Bay Times reported. It is often mixed with or sold as a substitute for illegal drugs such as heroin, according to the newspaper.

“I am appalled by the betrayal of trust exhibited by this nurse who stole fentanyl bags from the very institution entrusted with the well-being of our community,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “These actions not only jeopardize lives but undermine the fundamental principles of healthcare.”

“It is difficult to comprehend how someone who is supposed to save lives is instead risking them for personal gain. My office will ensure anyone engaged in trafficking this deadly poison will be held accountable for their actions.” State Attorney Suzy Lopez said in a statement. “I commend the Sheriff’s Office for its dedication to fighting the war on fentanyl for the safety of our community.”

Williams is no longer employed at the hospital, Laura Stauter, director of communications at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, told the Times in a statement.

Sauter said the hospital has put extensive safeguards in place to ensure medications are administered and accounted for.

“These safeguards led to the discovery of some discrepancies,” Stauter told the Times in her statement. “After a timely internal investigation, hospital leadership reported the incident to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, FDA, and the state board of nursing.”

Williams was released after posting $68,000 bail on Friday, online records show.