Registered Nurse Accused of Stealing Patients’ Drugs

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SCRANTON -- Investigators believe a nurse who worked at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton took morphine from patients she was supposed to take care of.

Lisa Cowger, a Registered Nurse and former employee at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton turned herself in at a magistrate's office in the city.

This wraps up a year-long investigation into missing drugs at the hospital that investigators say Cowger took for herself.

According to court papers, other employees at Moses Taylor Hospital started suspecting Cowger last fall when they noticed syringes of morphine had been tampered with while Cowger was working.

The hospital did its own tests and found some of the syringes had been swapped with saline, nothing more than salt water.

Over the course of the investigation, Cowger admitted to detectives that she would take some morphine and dilute the rest of the syringe with saline before giving it to patients.

That led prosecutors to charge Cowger with more serious crimes including assault and reckless endangerment.

"The potential risk of them complaining about their pain medications not working and receiving potentially a double dose or even a lethal dose of pain killers," said Assistant District Attorney Shane Scanlon.

Prosecutors said Moses Taylor Hospital opened up the whole investigation, but couldn't provide them with a list of patients who could have received the diluted drugs. They said there's no way to know how many patients or how long this had been going on.

Many current patients we spoke to said Cowger's arrest casts a bad light on all the nurses at the hospital.

"Makes me have less trust in people than I already have, makes me not want to bring my kids here any more," said Stephanie Quiles of Scranton.

Officials with Moses Taylor did provide Newswatch 16 with this statement:

"The hospital is aware that former employee Lisa Cowger has been arraigned. We have taken this matter very seriously and cooperated with authorities in their investigation.  Because this is a legal matter, we have no additional information to provide."

According to court papers, Cowger, who lives in Honesdale, was put on paid leave when the investigation started last year. She is no longer an employee at Moses Taylor Hospital. She's expected back in court later in November.