Nurse charged with stealing drugs from VA hospital


A nurse will make his first court appearance this afternoon for stealing drugs on 34 different days from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced today.

Matthew Leininger, 42, of Minneapolis was charged with five counts of theft by swindle for stealing the drugs between June 22 and Dec. 25, 2016.  Among the drugs he is accused of stealing are fentanyl, morphine and oxycodone.

In an interview with the Office of Inspector General, Leininger said he used the drugs to help his mental health, according to the criminal complaint.

The medical center uses a machine called Pyxis to dispense drugs to doctors and nurses for the patients. Leininger was required to log in with his user identification and then provide his fingerprint in order to obtain the drugs, the complaint states. The nurses also are required to enter into the machine which patient will receive the drug and record the dose to be administered. At the other end, the nurse is expected to log in how much was given to the patient or the amount that was wasted.

By reviewing the records, investigators determined that Leininger followed the procedures for obtaining the drugs but did not record that the drugs were administered to the patient he had designated or wasted, according to the complaint. In addition to those 34 days, in another 31 cases, Leininger did record a partial administration of the drug, but did not record the resulting waste or recorded a partial waste of the drug but not of the administration of the rest of it to a patient. With multiple thefts on some of those 34 days, Leininger is suspected of stealing drugs more than 70 times.

Investigators spoke to Leininger on Dec. 28 and his ability to access the drugs was ended and he was fired in March.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)