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Claxton-Hepburn nurse accused of forging prescriptions

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A Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center registered nurse is facing felony charges for allegedly forging prescriptions and having them filled at pharmacies throughout Northern New York.

State police arrested James J. Moore, 30, of 316 Gouverneur St., Morristown, Thursday and charged him with second-degree possession of a forged instrument and first-degree identity theft, both felonies, as well as fifth-degree possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.

According to court documents, Mr. Moore, allegedly wrote himself a prescription for the narcotics hydromorphone and oxymorphone between the dates of Oct. 16 2012 and Nov. 21 after he stole a prescription pad from the hospital.

State Police Narcotics Unit Investigator Steven R. Bos said while they assisted in the arrest, State Health Department Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Investigator Harold Stone, Syracuse, investigated the case in its entirety.

Mr. Stone said in a statement that Mr. Moore received oxymorphone by the use of a stolen/forged prescription from the hospital and had it filled on Nov. 21 at the Kinney Drug Pharmacy located at 200 Market St., in the village of Potsdam. Mr. Stone the pharmacy did not know the document was forged or stolen, as Mr. Moore allegedly identified himself as Dr. Robert B. Thompson, by using Dr. Thompson’s name, Drug Enforcement Administration number and state medical license number and signature, without his knowledge.

Claxton-Hepburn spokeswoman Laura C. Shea said Tuesday that Mr. Moore is no longer working at the hospital, but would not say whether he had been suspended or terminated. She declined further comment on the specifics of the case.

“We are cooperating with authorities as they conduct their investigation,” Mrs. Shea said. “We are also doing an internal investigation.”

Mrs. Shea said the hospital keeps prescription pads and medication in a secure, automated dispensing box called an Omnicell that is in a locked room and only accessible to staff with a pass code. She said the dispenser keeps precise records about which medications are being accessed and in what amounts.

“At any time we can run a report to detect activity so we can match up physician orders with what is actually being dispensed,” she said. “Right now we have paper prescription pads in the cell, but we are transitioning to an electronic medical records system where the prescriptions are also electronic.”

In a statement to the state Department of Health, Mr. Moore said he had forged prescriptions from Oct. 16 to Nov. 21 that he said he stole from the hospital.

Mr. Moore added that all the prescriptions were allegedly filled at Kinney Drug Pharmacies in Ogdensburg, Canton and Brewerton as well.

“I state I stole these prescriptions while they were sitting behind the nurse’s station counter,” Mr. Moore said. “We try as nurses to keep the prescriptions picked up, but we get busy and forget to put the prescriptions back into the Omnicell.”

Mr. Moore said he became addicted to the pain medications after he was initially given a prescription for a May 17, 2007 ankle injury.

Mr. Moore was arraigned at Morristown Town Court Thursday and was sent to St. Lawrence County jail. He was released early Tuesday under probation supervision and is scheduled to reappear in court at 4 p.m. Dec. 19.

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