EMT charged in drug thefts.
The following correction was published in the Telegram & Gazette on October 11, 2012:
WESTBORO - Luther Henshaw, a former emergency medical technician from Gardner who was charged with stealing narcotics, is 25 years old. Because of a reporter's error, his age was incorrect in a story in yesterday's Telegram & Gazette.
WESTBORO - A 45-year-old (SEE PUBLISHED CORRECTION) former emergency medical technician allegedly injected himself with stolen drugs, sometimes by saying they were for patients in his ambulance.
Luther Henshaw, 45, of 32 Yale St., Gardner, was arraigned yesterday in Westboro District Court on charges of larceny of a controlled substance. Judge Robert B. Calagione continued the case to Nov. 21 for a pretrial hearing and ordered Mr. Henshaw not to do any drugs and to submit to random drug screens.
Authorities said the case was brought to their attention after reports of significant amounts of missing morphine and the pain reliever fentanyl. Mr. Henshaw worked for Medstar Ambulance, 1000 Battles St., Leominster.
Mr. Henshaw allegedly tested positive for morphine during a mandated drug test by his employer and was fired Oct. 10, 2011, five days after a co-worker allegedly saw Mr. Henshaw inject himself with a brown liquid while on duty.
According to court documents, when the co-worker asked Mr. Henshaw what he was doing, he told her it was Zofran because he was nauseous. He allegedly fell asleep shortly after.
During the same shift together, they took an 84-year-old woman from Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital-Westborough to MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham to have toes amputated, and a 55-year-old male stroke patient from Nashoba Medical Center in Ayer to Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery. Mr. Henshaw allegedly volunteered to ride in the back of the ambulance with each patient.
The co-worker told investigators she heard Mr. Henshaw ask the patients if they were in pain and they answered, no. She said she was surprised when she learned Mr. Henshaw had documented that he had administered 50 micrograms of fentanyl to the 84-year-old woman en route to the hospital because she was having increasing pain in her foot, and another 50 mcg on the return trip because the woman was in "great distress" after the wound had been poked.
Mr. Henshaw allegedly reported that on each trip he had supplied the elderly woman with 100 mcg of fentanyl. But, he said, he was able to administer 50 mcg and he wasted the other 50 mcg. Hospital workers had noted a pain scale of "0" during the woman's visit.
When they returned the woman to Whittier, the co-worker said she saw Mr. Henshaw inject himself with the brown liquid.
Later that day when they took the 55-year-old man to Mass General, the co-worker said, Mr. Henshaw's "eyes seemed funny" and he "seemed like he was buzzed." The co-worker told authorities that when they left the hospital, Mr. Henshaw went to the back of the ambulance for about 10 to 15 minutes. She said she heard him pop the clips on the drug box but she could not see what he was doing.
When he returned to the front of the ambulance, the co-worker said, he kept falling asleep about one minute at a time and then woke up. She stopped the ambulance for him to buy ice cream. He fell asleep while eating it and it fell on his shirt.
At one point, Mr. Henshaw allegedly told the co-worker that they may have to go to St. Vincent's Hospital to replace a topical pain-relieving spray that he had used for the patient. He fell asleep again with the drug box open. When he woke up, the co-worker said, Mr. Henshaw gave the name of a different drug that he said they would have to replace. He fell asleep again, she said.
When he awoke, the co-worker said, she told him he had initially told her it was a topical pain relieving spray that he has used and that had to be replaced.
She asked him why he used it. He allegedly said the patient had a headache and that with everything else going on, he wanted to relieve the man's pain.
When Mr. Henshaw dozed off again, the co-worker allegedly looked at the drug log, which showed that Mr. Henshaw had ordered 24 milligrams of morphine and had wasted 4 mg.
"This amount of morphine would have violated the statewide treatment protocol," investigators wrote in the report. The maximum statewide treatment protocol is 10 mg, the report said.
The medic who relieved Mr. Henshaw at the end of the shift reported that the drug box was missing a lot of narcotics, including morphine and fentanyl.
When Mr. Henshaw's employer told him he had to take a drug test, he allegedly said he had a prescription for Percocet because of a congenital kidney disease. The employer assured him that the lab would specifically separate the tests for morphine and Percocet.
The two patients also allegedly told investigators that they had not been administered any drugs during their ambulance rides.
The case was investigated by the state police Diversion Investigative Unit.