Report: Woman replaces drugs with water

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LEE COUNTY — A 24-year-old Port Charlotte pharmacy technician was arrested Wednesday in Lee County for allegedly stealing liquid narcotics and replacing them with sterile water while working at HealthPark Medical Center in Fort Myers.

Jessica Danielle Bramble, of the 22300 block of Oceanside Ave., faces charges of adulterating a drug for distribution, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, and grand theft of a controlled substance, after she reportedly removed narcotics from a drug -dispensing machine at the hospital.

Bramble’s current employment is listed as a pharmacy technician at Lemon Bay Drugs North in North Port, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s report.

The medication-dispensing system at HealthPark maintains an electronic database that stores the user’s identity, via fingerprint, the report states. Bramble allegedly used her finger ID in order to obtain the narcotics, then replaced them with water -filled capsules.

Bramble was accused of more than 40 instances of stealing drugs from 2011 to 2012, the report states. The majority of those transactions involved Dilaudid, a derivative of morphine, according to the report.

Three employees who were present when Bramble allegedly was caught stealing the narcotics from the dispensing machine corroborated some of the allegations against Bramble and identified her from a photo lineup, according to the report.

Bramble told investigators in a telephone interview Feb. 1 that she stole the drugs for a family member who had both a medical condition and a drug addiction, the report shows. She reportedly said she would replace the drug with sterile water from vials around the hospital. She said she used sterile syringes to remove the drug from the capsules, then placed the narcotic fluid in empty capsules she found in the pharmaceutical waste can, according to the report.

Employees at Lemon Bay Drugs North declined to comment on Bramble’s employment status Monday.

As of Monday, Bramble’s pharmacy technician license was cataloged as active on the Florida Department of Health website and she was listed as working for the North Port pharmacy.

Investigators say Bramble admitted to similar thefts at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.

In a statement, Lee Memorial Health System officials said Bramble’s activity was flagged immediately and they launched an investigation, but did not find any patients who were impacted by her alleged drug activity.

Following the investigation, the hospital conducted a comprehensive review of employee handling of controlled substances to make sure that procedures were followed.

Bramble was arrested Wednesday and taken to Lee County Jail. She was released Thursday after posting $4,500 bond.

Bramble could not be reached for comment.

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