Jacksonville Beach nurse who tampered with pain meds at work pleads guilty in court

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — On Tues., Oct. 3, Katherine Jee Rankin, 30, Jacksonville Beach, pleaded guilty in a Middle District of Florida courtroom for tampering with injectable hydromorphone.


According to court documents, Rankin was a registered nurse and employed by a local surgical center in Jacksonville. On Oct. 13, 2022, a supervisor of Rankin told her she was being fired for forging an anesthesia record.

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The documents go on to say that after being terminated but while still in the building, Rankin was seen by an employee and captured on surveillance video removing vials from a controlled substance cabinet.

After some discussion with employees about her drug addiction, she turned over four vials of injectable hydromorphone.

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Rankin went on to explain that the drugs were replaced with saline, the caps glued back on, and the vials placed back into inventory so that the drug count “would be correct.”

Laboratory testing proved that the four vials showed physical and chemical tampering.

Additional evidence against Rankin included:

“A review of patient records showed numerous instances in which 200 ml of hydromorphone was documented as being administered to patients when that amount would have been unusual – 100 ml being more typical. On those occasions, the entries appeared to have been altered with a “2” being written over the “1.” There were also multiple records of hydromorphone supposedly being administered post-operatively (which also would be unusual), indicating that these records were falsified or altered to cover for Rankin’s diversion of drugs for personal use.”

—  Department of Justice court documents

The Department of Justice commented on the dangers of what Rankin was doing.

“As a trained and educated healthcare professional, Rankin knew that tampering with medication and falsifying records placed patients in danger of bodily injury and potentially death,” the Department of Justice said in a release.

Rankin faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

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This case was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- Office of Criminal Investigations and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office -- Pharmaceutical Diversion and Designer Drug Unit attached to the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

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