A registered nurse at Ellis Hospital swapped out a patient’s powerful painkiller with an over-the-counter drug this summer, taking the painkiller for himself, authorities said.
The nurse, identified as Richard E. Espey Jr., gave the patient simple Tylenol, pocketing the powerful and controlled painkiller hydrocodone for his own use, according to papers filed in court.
Espey, 43, of 239 Furman St., Schenectady, was formally charged Thursday with a host of counts, including four felonies.
In all, Espey is accused of taking powerful and controlled pain relievers on three separate days in June and July, not administering the drugs to patients, but keeping them for his own use, according to papers.
On July 17, he allegedly switched the hydrocodone for Tylenol. A month earlier, on June 16, Espey is accused of using another nurse’s computer ID to make three withdrawals of controlled oxycodone tablets, two tablets in each withdrawal, and keeping those for himself.
Finally, on July 19, Espey is accused of taking two oxycodone tablets and recording that he took them out for a patient. In fact, he pocketed those, as well, according to papers.
Contacted Friday afternoon, a spokesman for Ellis Hospital declined comment, saying it’s not their policy to comment on personnel issues. But hospital officials have previously said a system is in place that tracks each dose of controlled medication and that system alerts officials to irregularities.
According to the state Department of Health, Ellis Hospital first discovered criminal activity and reached out to the department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement to investigate. That investigation led to Espey’s arrest, according to a Department of Health spokesman.
Paperwork filed in the case indicates the charges are based on the investigation and an “attached admission” from Espey.
Espey has been a registered nurse in New York state since 2007, state records show. He is listed as registered through 2015.
He faces three felony counts of first-degree falsifying business records and one felony count of computer trespass. The computer trespass relates to the allegations he used the fellow nurse’s computer ID.
Espey also faces three counts each of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and petty larceny, misdemeanors. He also faces one misdemeanor count of fraud and deceit, related to the allegations of giving the patient the wrong medication.
Espey was released to return to court next month. His listed attorney, Terence Kindlon, could not be reached.