Nurse who stole drugs from dying patients gets prison term

SEATTLE -- An Anacortes nurse was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for stealing pain medication from her dying patients.

While working at an Anacortes elder care facility in 2011, 34-year-old Erin Linvog stole narcotics from the facility for her own use. Prosecutors say she requested orders of morphine on behalf of her terminally-ill patients, but kept it for herself.

On several occasions, Linvog admitted to removing liquid morphine from the facility's bottles and replacing it with tap water.

One of the patients Linvog stole from was Jean Felder. The 88-year-old mother and grandmother spent seven years at Fidalgo Care Center & Rosario Assisted Living before passing away in March.

A month after she died, her family learned the Linvog had been stealing the morphine that was meant to provide Jean with comfort in her final days.

"The last couple of weeks of her life she was very uncomfortable," said Jean's daughter, Deborah Kelly.

What really upsets Jean's family is that the state nursing commission has allowed Linvog to continue working as a registered nurse in facilities that have been selected by the Department of Health's monitoring program.

And despite the fact she was already a convicted felon, Linvog's nursing license was renewed just three months ago.

In a statement, the Health Department defended it's decisions regarding Linvog.

"The Nursing Commission only has legal authority to deny a renewal if the license has already been suspended or revoked. Her license at that time of her renewal (and now) was not revoked or suspended," the statement reads.

At Friday's sentencing, District Judge Richard A. Jones said Linvog "showed reckless disregard of others' pain."

"You violated every single notion of what we expect from a nurse," he said.

When she completes her yearlong prison term, Linvog will have three years of supervised release.