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Oregon nurse stole drugs from IVs, left patients to die with just tap water

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Oregon hospital officials believe a former nurse stole fentanyl from IV pouches and substituted it with tap water, according to police and local news reports. Up to 10 patients died and it was the latest example of a nationwide pattern of theft of deadly drugs from hospital facilities.

Family members of at least two of the victims told local media that the hospital blamed unsterilized water for the infection that led to their deaths.

If investigators confirm a link between the theft and the deaths, the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center incident could become the deadliest in a series of hospital fentanyl robberies across the country.

Other high-profile cases include the conviction of a Yale Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Clinic nurse who replaced a vial of fentanyl with saline, the suspended sentence of a Denver nurse who stole fentanyl from a patient, and the Hillsborough County The charges include dozens of charges against nurses. Florida is accused of stealing 17 IV bags of drugs between September and December.

Oregon nurse suspected of replacing fentanyl IV bag with tap water before patient's death

A Google Maps image shows a hospital where police are investigating a suspected fentanyl theft. Hospital officials said the thieves replaced the fentanyl with tap water before up to 10 patients died. (Google Maps)

Medford police said they were first alerted in early December and are still investigating concerns about the hospital.

Some patients died after the switch, but Medford police spokesman Lt. Jeff Kirkpatrick said it's too early to tell whether the switch caused any deaths.

“There is still too much to uncover in this case for us to make such a statement,” he told Fox News Digital.

Local newspaper Rogue Valley Times earlier reported that the families of two patients were told that their loved ones had died after the tap water caused a deadly infection.

A nurse holding a syringe labeled fentanyl 50 mcg/mL

In this stock photo, a medical worker prepares a fentanyl syringe. Opioid drugs are legally used in hospitals, but they have also been blamed for an increase in overdose deaths. (St. Petersburg)

The hospital declined to discuss details of the active investigation.

Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed to learn of this matter.” “We have reported it to law enforcement and are working closely with police.”

A 2012 Mayo Clinic study said the theft of prescription drugs from hospitals is “not uncommon” and puts both patients and hospital staff at “significant risk.” Researchers found that the most commonly stolen hospital drugs were opioids.

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ICU nurse Lisa Williams mugshot

Lisa Williams, a Florida ICU nurse, is accused of stealing 17 bags of fentanyl from patients between September and December, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

Police arrested Lisa Williams, 55, an ICU nurse at Brandon Hospital in Florida, in December. She was charged with 17 counts of trafficking in fentanyl, an additional 17 counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing a bag containing fentanyl, replacing its contents with an “unknown substance” and returning it to distribution at her workplace. has been done.

“It is incomprehensible that someone who is supposed to be saving lives would put them at risk for personal gain,” State Attorney Susie Lopez said in a statement.

In July, Texas nurse Crystal Ripe, 41, allegedly stole fentanyl from an Anona hospital for personal use and exchanged it for another liquid saline solution, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas. Admitted.

Similarly, in May 2021, former Yale University nurse Donna Monticone, then 49, was charged with stealing fentanyl from a medical vial using a syringe and injecting it with a three-year suspended sentence and four weeks in prison on weekends. , was sentenced to three months of home confinement. Add back the saline to make it look full. She also surrendered her nursing license.

“It's hard to understand why people who are supposed to be saving lives are risking their lives for personal gain.”

— Susie Lopez, Florida State Prosecutor

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Federal prosecutors say the saline solution was of no use to patients who needed painkillers, but was later injected into patients undergoing surgery. Investigators say about 75% of the fentanyl administered to patients at the hospital between June and October 2020 had evidence of tampering.

Federal prosecutors said Monticone allegedly used the stolen drugs for himself, leaving many victims stranded in the process without taking the drugs they thought were prescribed.

Yale later paid the federal government a $300,000 civil settlement, according to the Department of Justice.

A medical technician at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire is accused of stealing fentanyl, contaminating vials and later infecting at least 30 patients with hepatitis C in 2011 and 2012, according to federal prosecutors.

Investigators said they found footprints on his arm and recovered a needle and syringe from his car. Medical technician David Kwiatkowski confirmed that he had the disease and that the needles he later used to inject patients with alternative substances, including saline, were contaminated. It is said that he knew.

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