A registered nurse was arrested Tuesday after officers said they caught her stealing prescription drugs from an elderly patient.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office charged Ms. Amy M. Armstrong, who was employed by an hospice agency, with two counts of felony theft by taking, two counts of elder abuse, two counts of possession of a scheduled II controlled substance and possession of a scheduled III controlled substance, spokesman Mr. Howard Baker said.
Agents said they watched as Ms. Armstrong took pills from an elderly patient at the patient’s home.
A suspicious family member had reported the possible theft of the patient’s narcotic pain killers, Mr. Baker said.
“When agents moved in to arrest Armstrong, they found more pills which included narcotic pain killers and anti-depressants,” Mr. Baker said.
Prescription drug abuse is the number one drug problem in Cherokee County. And its officers aren’t the only ones dealing with the growing problem.
Last month the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found there was a 10 percent increase in the number of people who died from prescription overdose last year, spokesman Mr. John Bankhead said.
The analysis of the autopsies performed by the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in 152 counties showed the increase from 2009 to 2010.
Of the 729 drug overdose deaths in 2010, there were 560 deaths which involved only prescription drugs.
The analysis also showed that 101 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved only illicit drugs and 68 deaths were attributed to a combination of both prescription and illicit drugs.
In 2009, 508 of the 670 overdose deaths were attributed to prescription drugs only.
The figures and the increase in arrests related to prescription medication led to the forming of a specialized narcotics task force, Mr. Baker said.
“Individuals may “Doctor Shop” or pass fraudulent prescriptions to obtain the highly sought after narcotic pain killers,” Mr. Baker said. “Others, like Armstrong, may steal the drugs from family members or others whom they have contact with.”
Ms. Armstrong remained in the Cherokee County jail on $73,000 bond.