Former Paramedic Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Stealing Medical-Grade Fentanyl
DENVER - 41-year-old Christopher Robert Pattinson of Commerce City, was sentenced to three years in prison for tampering with fentanyl intended for patient use according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.
According to the plea agreement, Pattinson was a Paramedic Field Lieutenant Supervisor at a Denver-area hospital. For a period of four years, he stole approximately 1900 vials of fentanyl from the paramedic department, and in the last few months of his employment, tampered with fentanyl vials intended for patient use. He concealed his theft by altering the hospital’s narcotics logs and making false entries in the hospital’s records. When the defendant tampered with the narcotics, he apparently removed fentanyl vials from a locked narcotics supply cabinet and replaced the drug with a clear liquid believed to be saline. The defendant then returned tampered fentanyl vials to the locked narcotics supply cabinet and placed tampered vials in narcotics kits to be used on ambulances to respond to emergencies.
“Trust is the cornerstone of a patient’s relationship with the medical community,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Rocky Mountain Field Division. “Mr. Pattinson violated that trust, and as a result of his actions, the DEA, the FDA, and our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office have held him accountable.”
“We won’t tolerate medical professionals who put patients at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan. “Drug addiction is tragic, but it’s no excuse for harming patients – this conduct will send you to prison for a long time.”
“Health care professionals who tamper with patient medications not only harm patients but also put at risk the trust that U.S. consumers have in those who provide their medical care,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Grinstead, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice health care professionals who tamper with patients’ medications.”
United States District Court Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney sentenced the defendant on April 19, 2023. After his period of incarceration, the defendant will also serve three years on supervised release. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the hospital.
Substance abuse and mental health services are available to medical professionals experiencing addiction and other issues that may be detrimental to their ability to safely practice their profession. Nurses, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, and other medical professionals can reach out to nonprofit agency Peer Assistance Services, Inc. (peerassistanceservices.org), and emergency medical professionals can contact nonprofit agency Path4EMS (path4ems.org). These programs promote earlier identification and intervention to prevent professionals from engaging in unsafe practices.