Port Townsend nurse suspended after allegations of practicing without license, using drugs prescribed to patient

Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A registered nurse has been suspended by health officials for allegedly practicing without a valid license and diverting drugs.

Elizabeth Whittaker, 55, of Port Townsend was cited by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and the state Department of Health based on charges that she provided home nursing care to a man after her license had lapsed.

Whittaker is also accused of filling oxycodone and zolpidem titrate prescriptions under the patient’s name and taking them for her personal use, according to a news release.

According to the charging documents, Whittaker’s license was suspended in January 2011 for an 18-month period, during which time she answered an advertisement for a home health care job and presented herself as a registered nurse to the patient.

After being hired, she moved into the patient’s Port Townsend home, the document said.

Between May 2012 and January 2014, Whittaker performed various nursing services for the patient, including ordering and administering medication and providing catheter and wound care, according to the document.

In January, Whittaker allegedly obtained and filled prescriptions under the patient’s name for zolpidem titrate and oxycodone, the latter of which the patient cannot take because of his allergies.

According to legal documents, a prescription monitoring program showed that Whittaker continued to fill these prescriptions under the patient’s name after she had left the job in January 2014.

The documents redacted names of both the patient and the person who filed the complaint.

Whittaker has until July 30 to request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, who could decide to either reinstate or revoke her nursing credentials.

There will be no criminal charges resulting from the hearing, according to Kelly Stowe, a spokesperson for the quality assurance commission.

Last modified: July 14. 2014 6:32PM
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