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updated: 7/1/2011 5:04 AM

Nursing home worker accused in painkiller theft

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Associated Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- A worker at a southwestern Illinois nursing home is accused of removing an 87-year-old patient's prescription pain reliever so she could ingest it herself.

Madison County prosecutors charged 41-year-old Kathleen Lung of Alton with criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller, often prescribed for cancer patients and administered through a patch. But it also is a powerful, euphoria-inducing narcotic, 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.

The nursing home was not immediately publicly identified.

Lung does not have a listed home telephone number. It was not immediately clear if she has retained an attorney.