A surgical nurse at West Boca Medical Center is facing charges that he stole powerful controlled substances from the facility’s operating room, according to an arrest report.
Stacey Loy Lawhorn of Delray Beach is facing 44 counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and one count each of fraud and larceny between $300 and $5,000. Lawhorn, 50, is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $23,000 bail.
Lawhorn allegedly stole more than 40 vials of fentanyl out of a dispensing cabinet in the medical center’s operating room from Nov. 2 to Jan. 5. According to a detective’s comments on the arrest report, fentanyl is “80 times as potent as morphine and packs hundreds of times the analgesic punch of heroin … ”
The report alleges that Lawhorn withdrew fentanyl from a dispenser after patients underwent surgery, were recovering from surgery or had left the recovery area after the procedure. In 20 of the 37 surgical procedures in which he allegedly withdrew fentanyl using a patient’s identification number, Lawhorn was either not present or did not participate in the surgery, hospital staff members told the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Lawhorn also withdrew fentanyl in four cases — involving patients complaining of back pain, swollen lips, cold symptoms and trouble swallowing — in which there was no legitimate use for the drug, the report said.
During a drug screen Lawhorn underwent Jan. 6, he tested positive for fentanyl, the report said. A search of his hospital locker the same day as the drug screen uncovered an empty 5 milliliter vial of fentanyl and a half-filled 10 milliliter vial of furosemide, a quick-acting diuretic.
While serving a search warrant Jan. 6 at Lawhorn’s home, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office found a 10 milliliter vial of ketamine, a controlled substance primarily used for starting and maintaining anesthesia.
During questioning by PBSO, Lawhorn allegedly admitted to take the drugs from the medical center.