A nurse who stole narcotics from the hospital where she worked is being blamed for the contamination of IV bags. Six patients underwent intensive medical care and one died after contracting a rare bacterial infection from their IV bags, which were contaminated during the theft of drugs. The nurse has pled guilty to the theft charges.
There has not yet been any personal injury or wrongful death charges placed against her. An event like this could happen at any hospital if the proper precautions are not taken to prevent and fully investigate employee theft.
The nurse pled guilty to stealing narcotics from at least 23 patients. She replaced the missing drugs in the IV bags with saline. This drug diversion allowed her to make off with the narcotics, while no one noticed anything was missing as the requisite liquid was still added to the IV.
As a result of this event, a task force was started for the state, consisting of health care and law enforcement officials to investigate painkiller theft among medical workers.
As this case shows, drug diversion can have serious health consequences for the patients. Fortunately, more people were not harmed by this nurse's actions, but there are patients who required intensive treatment and one patient did die as a result of the drug diversion.
Personal injury or wrongful death cases may be options for the families who were affected by this nurse's theft, as a way to pay the medical bills or replace some of the time they were unable to work.
Source: Star Tribune, "Death linked to IV bags contaminated when a St. Cloud nurse stole drugs," Maura Lerner, Oct. 2, 2012