UPDATE: Former UW Hospital nurse could face charges after reports of stolen morphine
MADISON (WKOW) --- A former UW Hospital nurse was arrested Thursday and could be charged with 42 felony counts of Diversion of Drugs and 42 counts of Reckless Injury, according to UW Madison Police.
Authorities say 31-year-old Stefanie A. Jones of Cottage Grove admitted to hospital staff that she was diverting the pain killers and taking them for herself since October of 2013.
UW Madison Police say they were contacted by UW Hospital regarding a nurse who was suspected of stealing the drugs intended for patients.
UWPD says they found in 42 cases Jones was diverting drugs from patients. UW Police found Jones had been accessing morphine syringes from a secured machine, and replacing them with syringes of water or another liquid. Authorities say the hospital noticed when a pharmacy technician noticed that the red tamper-evidence caps on the drugs had been tampered with.
Hospital officials say Jones left employment at UW Hospital April 28, after more than a year on the job. State records show she was licensed as a registered nurse in April 2012.
UWPD says it is unclear how many patients were affected by her actions. The investigation found she had recklessly endangered human life as she replaced drugs with water or another liquid.
UW Hospital spokesperson Lisa Brunette says if patients were affected by being deprived of pain medication by Jones, hospital practice and policy would have prompted staff to try a different medication.
A Dane County District Attorney's official says the case is under review.
Jones was released from the Dane County Jail Thursday, with no bail required. Jones declined comment to 27 News as she left the jail.
UW Hospital and clinics released the following email: 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.
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