North Carolina Nurse Gets 4 Years for Painkiller Mishandling


  • Editorial Team / Admin
    Specializes in Official allnurses account.

A former North Carolina nurse, Melissa Elizabeth Chacona, was handed a four year prison sentence for replacing pain killers with saline. Chacona will also receive three-years of supervised release following the sentence.

In early 2019, Chacona began taking vials of controlled substances including:

  • fentanyl,
  • morphine, and
  • meperidine

She would then replace the vials with saline.

"Testing revealed that compromised vials contained less than 15% of the actual medication and that the tampering had rendered multiple vials unsterile."

The release does not clarify what she did with the medications. As part of the plea, Chacona will have to permanently surrender her nursing license.

Chacona was working in the Raleigh area at a surgical practice during the time the crimes were committed.

Lynker, LPN

277 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Rehab. Has 4 years experience.

Interesting. Did we ever find out what happened from her side of the story? Not that it changes anything, but this is intriguing. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,936 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

Addiction makes people do horrible things.  I have some empathy for the desperation and turmoil she must have and is going through because of her addiction.  I do hope this is rock bottom for her and that she cleans up and gets her life back somehow.

From the article above:  "Surgical patients trust health care providers to give them the medicines they need.,” and what she did should have consequences. Theft to the point is causes pain and suffering to other people is indeed criminal in my mind.  

On a side note, I took notice that she's 45.  I'm seeing quite a bit of older people addicted to pain killers and fentanyl.  Just last week at someone in their late 50's and early 60's.   We are not a well society.


Specializes in orthopedic/trauma, Informatics, diabetes. Has 11 years experience.
Tweety said:

On a side note, I took notice that she's 45.

That's not old. 

Also, if they would stop punishing legit chronic pain people as part of the "opioid epidemic" they might not be tempted to do stuff like this-I am not defending what she did in ANY way-she admitted it and surrendered her license. 


Emergent, RN

2 Articles; 4,109 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

This sort of drug diversion is abhorrent to me. It's one thing to indulge in recreational drugs that aren't approved by the Boards of Nursing or the government. Drug diversion that denies a patient pain medication is a whole other story. I have a low opinion of people who can't resist stealing from vulnerable patients.