Drugs

A Rockton man is facing felony drug charges for allegedly taking controlled substances while employed as a nurse at Penn Highlands DuBois, according to a criminal complaint filed at District Judge Patrick Ford’s office in DuBois.

On Aug. 8, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General charged John R. Snider Jr., 42, Cemetery Road, Rockton, with a felony count of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation and misdemeanor counts of furnishing false/fraudulent material information and intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered.

Snider, a registered nurse, is accused of acquiring and taking possession of wasted controlled substances — liquid Dilaudid and Fentanyl — on several occasions for personal use while employed at PH DuBois between July and October of 2018.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, the hospital filed a complaint, in February 2019, with the Pennsylvania Department of State concerning possible diversion by Snider. The hospital grew suspicious of Snider after reviewing the high amounts of controlled substances being “pulled” for patients compared to what those patients were actually prescribed and supposed to receive.

According to the affidavit, the hospital provided investigators with a breakdown and analysis of the numerous incidents in which Snider reportedly pulled to dispense or wasted a large amount of controlled substances. Pulling a medication refers to taking a medication from an automated dispensing unit where medications are securely stored. Wasting refers to the proper disposal of unused medication, the affidavit said.

On June 13, Snider was interviewed and reportedly told investigators he has had numerous hip surgeries over the past several years, the affidavit said. After his last surgery in 2017, Snider said he was prescribed Percocet and then Vicodin for pain. He was then put on Oxycontin for 30 days after post-surgical problems. He then continued Vicodin, a low dose pain medication which was supposed to help “wean” him from the Percocet.

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Snider told the investigators he tried to wean off by himself completely before completing his Vicodin prescription but was unsuccessful, the affidavit said. He reportedly said he found himself needing something stronger than Vicodin for his pain. While working as an RN, Snider said he found an opportunity to obtain stronger opioids for his pain by accessing the “sharps” container at work.

He reportedly explained there was a “sharps” container in the med room at work beside the AcuDose machine. That “sharps” container, he reportedly said, was not locked and allowed direct access to whatever was placed in it, including wasted vials of liquid medications, the affidavit said. As per hospital policy, liquid medication wastes were to be disposed of in the sink or the garbage but it was standard practice for the nurses there to put the waste, still in its original vials, in the “sharps” container, he said.

Snider reportedly said he could look in and see what liquid medications were available to him, including medications he wasted, so he would take the vials and draw up whatever was left in them into a syringe, the affidavit said. He reportedly said he would then take the syringe containing the wasted medications home and inject the drugs. The drugs in the “sharps” container would have been recorded as wasted medications by whoever dispensed the medication, including Snider.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20 at Ford’s office.

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