Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Nurse Substituted Water For Fentanyl Drip

Mocobizscene – A lawsuit has been filed in response to allegations that a nurse in a southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water. The lawsuit is seeking up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who tragically passed away.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on Monday against Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, with nurse Dani Marie Schofield also being named as a defendant, according to CBS affiliate KOIN-TV.

In a recent announcement, Medford police revealed that they are currently investigating possible crimes against patients that involve the theft of “controlled substances.” These incidents may have resulted in “adverse” outcomes for certain individuals.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that has played a significant role in the nation’s overdose epidemic. However, it also has legitimate medical uses in alleviating severe pain. The theft of this drug from hospitals has been an ongoing issue for quite some time.

The police have chosen not to disclose any additional information regarding the case. As per the records of the Oregon Board of Nursing, Schofield voluntarily suspended her nursing license in November, citing an ongoing investigation. It is important to note that no charges have been filed at this time.

According to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Justin Idiart, a lawyer from southern Oregon, has stated that he is representing nine clients who have experienced medication substitutions. Additionally, he has been contacted by five others who are seeking potential representation. Idiart’s clients consist of individuals who have lost loved ones due to this issue, as well as survivors. It is important to note that all of these clients were treated by Schofield.

Several other law firms in the area have also been investigating the possibility of pursuing legal action. Legal professionals predict that as many as thirty-six cases could potentially be filed.

The hospital did not respond to an email from The Associated Press when seeking comment on Tuesday. Contact information for Schofield could not be immediately located by the AP, and it remains unclear whether Schofield has legal representation.

Last month, Asante expressed their distress upon learning about the issue and stated that they immediately reported it to law enforcement. They are currently working closely with the authorities in order to resolve the matter.

In February 2022, Horace E. Wilson, the founder of a cannabis company named Decibel Farms in Jacksonville, Oregon, tragically passed away after falling off a ladder. Following the incident, Wilson received medical treatment at the hospital where it was discovered that he had suffered from bleeding in his spleen. As a result, his spleen had to be removed. The lawsuit concerning Wilson’s death was recently filed by Idiart in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Doctors observed “unexplained high fevers, significantly elevated white blood cell counts, and a rapid deterioration,” as stated in the complaint.

According to court documents, Schofield, a nurse at the medical center, was directed to administer fentanyl to the patient beginning on January 29. However, the plaintiffs claim that instead of the prescribed fentanyl, Schofield substituted it with non-sterile tap water, which introduced additional bacteria into the patient’s bloodstream.

Wilson’s condition worsened as tests revealed an infection caused by treatment-resistant bacteria known as Staphylococcus epidermidis. Unfortunately, he succumbed to multi-system organ failure and passed away several weeks later.

According to court documents, the hospital experienced three cases of central-line associated bloodstream infections in 2021. However, this number significantly increased to 15 cases in 2022. As reported by KOIN, the plaintiffs claim that Asante, the hospital company, acknowledged in April 2023 that these infections were caused by bacteria. Surprisingly, the company did not disclose any incidents of water contamination at any of its medical centers.

Patients who did not receive their medication experienced negative effects due to the diversion of medication, according to Idiart. In the case of Wilson, his family noticed that he appeared to be in pain despite being prescribed sedatives, as shared by Idiart.

In December, Asante reached out to the Medford police about a former employee who they suspected was involved in stealing fentanyl that was prescribed to patients, leading to negative outcomes for some patients.

In that particular month, representatives from the hospital took the initiative to reach out to patients and their families, informing them of a distressing incident. According to their communication, a nurse had replaced fentanyl with tap water, resulting in bacterial infections.

According to a statement from the Medford Police, they are urging the public to remain patient while they work to fully comprehend the allegations and the impact they have had on those involved (KOIN).

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