As many as 10 patients in the United States may have died after a nurse at an Oregon hospital allegedly swapped fentanyl intravenous (IV) drips with tap water. According to the New York Post, police are investigating the theft of medication prescribed to patients at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. The case came to light after officials at the hospital alerted the cops early last month that they believed a former employee had stolen medication.
Citing sources NBC affiliate KOBIreported that 9 to 10 people at the hospital had died from infections. Sources also told the outlet that the nurse had injected the patients with non-sterile tap water to cover up their misuse of the hospital’s supply of pain medication, namely fentanyl. The alleged swap had been affecting patients since at least the fall of 2022, KOBI reported.
Two people whose relatives died at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center said that hospital officials notified them that the deaths were due to infections resulting from their pain medication being replaced with non-sterile tap water.
According to the Post, police in Medford confirmed that they are now investigating at least one incident at the hospital. “There was concern that this behaviour resulted in adverse patient care, though the extent of the impact on those patients is yet to be determined,” Medford police said in a statement. However, they declined to confirm whether the deaths resulted from medication theft or tampering.
“We’re investigating whether or not that behaviour led to adverse patient care, which could be death, could be all sorts of other forms or things. … We don’t know that that resulted in deaths,” cops said.
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The police department stated that they had notified any patients impacted by the swap. But they declined to say how many people have died or been impacted.
The hospital, on the other hand, said that they were “distressed to learn of this issue”. “We reported it to law enforcement and are working closely with them,” the hospital said.
The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed that it was investigating “reports that the incidents led to healthcare-associated infections that severely injured, and may have caused the deaths of, several patients”. But it remains unclear if any arrests were made stemming from the incident.
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