UPDATE: Ex-UW Hospital nurse accused of stealing morphine

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A former nurse at UW Hospital is accused of stealing morphine syringes for herself.

Stefanie Jones

Statement from UW Health

Officials at UW Hospital and Clinics have notified the state board of nursing, the Drug Enforcement Administration and UW-Madison police of evidence that a nurse formerly employed at the hospital was diverting painkillers for personal use.

 

The nurse’s employment at UWHC ended on April 28. The nurse had previously been placed on administrative leave. She worked in the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit.

 

Hospital staff found evidence of possible diversion through a combination of regular audits and surveillance that are part of the hospital’s narcotic-control system. The medications in question are morphine and hydromorphone in large syringes that were to be used in patient-controlled analgesia (in which patients can administer pain-killing drugs as needed by pushing a button). The hospital’s investigation revealed that 42 such syringes were diverted by the nurse. As the investigation began, the hospital pulled all inventory of the syringes and intensified scrutiny of the process for compounding, transporting and stocking these medications.

 

There have been no reports or suggestions of impaired behavior by the former nurse. Nonetheless, UW Hospital takes such behavior very seriously and affirms that it calls for serious consequences to be determined by regulatory agencies and by the legal system.

 

UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

31-year-old Stefanie Jones was a nurse at UW Hospital's post-anesthesia unit -- they word here -- "was".

"She was arrested and taken in to custody on Thursday," said UW-Madison Police spokesperson Marc Lovicott.

"She is taking these pain killers and she's replacing them with nothing... with no pain medication whatsoever," he explained.

Jones allegedly switched out what was meant to be morphine and hydromorphone with water and other basic fluid.

"We were able to identify at least 42 different times in which this individual did this... and that's 42 patients that didn't get the medication they needed for whatever reason they were in the hospital for," Lovicott said.

He says when she was questioned, she didn't deny a thing.

"She admitted to doing this... she admitted to taking the drugs since October of last year."

Jones now no longer works at the hospital.

A statement from UW Hospitals and Clinics confirms her last day was April 28, and that the hospital "takes such behavior very seriously and affirms that it calls for serious consequences."

Pharmacist Sandra Hoel told NBC15 that morphine is a big deal.

"Morphine is a strong narcotic, it's basically in the same family with other pain medications that people, however it's on the strong end," she said.

It's typically used in hospitals or with people who have chronic severe pain.

Although it's unclear if Jones had a problem with addiction, Hoel said it's a possibility.

"Any health professional, any one who comes in contact with the drugs and has a tendency towards addiction and has other things going on may become addicted."

UW did not know how many patients were effected by the missing drugs.

They are now involving the DEA and the state's board of nursing.
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UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 --- 3:11 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A former nurse at UW Hospital is accused of stealing morphine syringes for herself.

Investigators for the UW-Madison Police Department concluded the 31-year-old woman had diverted 42 syringes containing morphine or another painkiller.

Hospital officials contacted campus police in March about an internal investigation of a nurse suspected of stealing pain-management drugs intended for patients.

Investigators determined the nurse was taking morphine syringes from a secured machine and replacing them with syringes containing water. A pharmacy technician noticed tamper-evidence caps on the drug syringes had been tampered with.

Police say it's unclear how many patients may have been affected. The nurse is no longer employed by UW Hospital.

She was arrested Thursday. The Dane County district attorney's office says the suspect was released from jail pending formal charges.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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Posted Friday, June 13, 2014 --- 1:00 p.m.

A former UW Hospital nurse is suspected of stealing morphine intended for patients.

According to UW-Madison Police, 31-year-old Stefanie Jones of Cottage Grove had been diverting drugs from patients in at least 42 different instances. A police and hospital investigation revealed Jones had been getting morphine syringes from a secured machine and replacing them with syringes that contained water or another unknown liquid. She allegedly took the morphine syringes for herself.

Hospital staff became aware of the issue when a pharmacy technician noticed that red tamper-evidence caps on the syringes had been tampered with.

Jones reportedly admitted to hospital staff that she was doing this and taking the drugs for herself, and that she had been doing this since October of 2013. She is no longer employed by UW Hospital.

UW-Madison Police investigators say Jones diverted 42 morphine and hydromorphone syringes for herself, but it is unclear how many patients were affected by her alleged actions. Investigators say Jones recklessly endangered the lives of patients, since drugs meant for their care and pain management were replaced with water or the unknown liquid.

Police arrested Jones on Thursday. She will be charged with 42 felony counts of diversion of drugs and 42 counts of reckless injury.


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