A nurse who said she was addicted to prescription pain medications wrote 23 fake orders for more than 2,700 pills in a little less than a year, and now she and her husband both are facing criminal charges.
Terra C. Schuster, 32, of 395 Wilson St., Sharon, was working as a nurse for Dr. Kate Paylo at UPMC Horizon, Farrell. According to court documents, on March 14 an employee at the Rite Aid pharmacy in Hermitage called Paylo’s office questioning a prescription for Michael W. Schuster, 38, for 150 Roxicodone pills.
The pharmacy noted two days earlier Mr. Schuster had filled another prescription, for 120 pills of Percocet, and that he had been receiving medications from multiple doctors. He refused to leave the prescription at the pharmacy when asked for it.
The call raised the eyebrow of another nurse at Paylo’s office because they usually don’t prescribe Roxicodone. The nurse called the pharmacy to get a copy of the prescription and showed it to the doctor, who confirmed she hadn’t signed it. They discovered another falsely-signed prescription for Roxicodone that was filled at the Rite Aid in Farrell.
The director of outpatient services for Paylo’s office confronted Mrs. Schuster, who admitted to writing and providing the prescriptions for her husband. When asked to provide a written statement, Mrs. Schuster asked, “Why? I did it and I know I’m fired, what more investigating needs done?”
She cleaned out her desk, handed in her keys and left the building. She’s now working as a waitress, the court papers revealed.
The doctor’s office notified the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, and its insurance fraud department investigated, along with a detective from Southwest Mercer Regional Police.
Paylo discovered 23 prescriptions from various pharmacies written for the Schusters between April 26, 2011 and March 14. Mrs. Schuster admitted to taking a prescription pad from her employer’s office during the 15 months she worked there and writing fake prescriptions for herself and her husband.
All of those prescriptions were paid by insurance. The Schusters, who had recently married, both had insurance plans. Some of the prescriptions were paid by his insurance, and others were paid by hers.
According to billing information from the insurance companies, the 23 fake prescriptions were for a total of 2,705 pills, at a cost of $1,609.68.
Mrs. Schuster told investigators she was injured while working at UPMC Horizon, Farrell, when a 400-pound patient fell on her. She injured her shoulder and filed a workers compensation claim, and said she became addicted to the pain medication she was prescribed. Her doctor had given her Vicodin before switching her to Roxicodone. Mrs. Schuster said she told her doctor she had became addicted to the Roxicodone, and he prescribed her methadone. Mrs. Schuster said her husband also was addicted to pain pills, as he was recovering from a back injury.
According to court papers the Schusters told police in April they both were attending a methadone clinic
Both are charged with two counts of insurance fraud, acquiring a controlled substance fraudulently, forgery and theft by deception.
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