Sarah Elizabeth Thacker, 31, was charged with 12 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and in an unrelated case, Kimberly C. Click, 42, was charged with 33 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
The TBI began investigating the women, both registered nurses who worked for Mountain States Health Alliance, after receiving separate referrals from the Tennessee Department of Health’s division of health-related boards.
A TBI press release about the cases said that between September 2015 and January 2017, Thacker used her position as an registered nurse at Johnson City Medical Center and Franklin Woods Hospital to divert Lortab prescribed to patients for her own use. The Department of Health made the request for an investigation on Thacker Feb. 8.
In Click’s case, the referral was made to TBI on Feb. 27. She was charged with using her position as an RN at Johnson City Medical Center to fraudulently obtain a controlled substance for her own use over the course of a year. The press release did not specify what drug Click allegedly diverted.
Both women were indicted by a Washington County grand jury earlier this month.
First Judicial Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle said there have been numerous cases this year involving medical professionals diverting patient prescriptions for themselves.
“There needs to be a statute dedicated for people in those professions who obtain narcotics by fraud,” McArdle said. “We’re trying to be proactive between the jurisdictions,” and share information about those professionals suspected of going from job to job and diverting drugs for themselves.
“What they’re saying they’re taking is normally the waste,” McArdle said. An example would be if a patient is prescribed one milligram of liquid morphine, but the vial holds two milligrams, then the remaining amount should be disposed of, and accounted for at the end of the day, in a specific waste container.
McArdle said she and other prosecutors intend to continue prosecuting these medical professionals to help stop the opioid problem in East Tennessee.
According to the TBI, both women turned themselves in at the Washington County Detention Center over the weekend. They were released on a summons to appear in Criminal Court Sept. 29.