Nurse accused of stealing painkillers from hospital patients

Patients in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities are entitled to receive top notch care every moment of every day by their nurses and doctors.

Unfortunately, nursing negligence does happen in Chicago nursing homes and other medical facilities, and includes actions such as a lack of monitoring, feeding, treating and bathing patients when they are unable to do some of these basic things on their own. Not receiving adequate care could be tragic for a patient, whose condition could quickly worsen from nursing errors and negligence.

A case of negligence recently took place at a U.S. hospital, where police said a 42-year-old veteran nurse was caught stealing painkillers for his own use. This caused about 23 patients to be deprived of their pain relievers without the hospital knowing. Instead of receiving a painkiller intravenously, the patients were treated with salt water.

According to a spokeswoman from the hospital, the drug the patients were meant to receive was hydromorphone hydrochloride, but instead they had received salt water because the nurse had drained the painkiller out of IV bags and then refilled the bags with saline. The IV bags were contained within a lockbox, but at the time, only one employee was needed to access the IV bags. The negligence and criminal act went on for more than three months before the hospital realized what was going on.

Because of the nurse’s actions, 23 patients developed infections because the IV bags were contaminated after the nurse had tampered with the bags. Patients suffered from various symptoms including fevers. After the incident, the patients and their families were contacted and notified of the situation.

The man is no longer a licensed nurse, and the hospital where the thefts occurred has since made changes to prevent similar incidents from happening. Instead of a single employee administering drugs, at least two must be present. Hopefully this incident will encourage other facilities to review their security policies and procedures.

Source: Star Tribune, “Charge: St. Cloud nurse stole painkiller from at least 23 patients,” Paul Walsh, Sept. 5, 2012

Nursing Negligence


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