ICU nurse arrested for swapping patients’ pain medication with tap water

Dani Mari Schofield has been accused of swiping liquid fentanyl and replacing it with unsterilized water

James Liddell
Sunday 16 June 2024 17:32 BST
The ICU nurse has been accused of diverting patients’ liquid fentanyl for personal use
The ICU nurse has been accused of diverting patients’ liquid fentanyl for personal use (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

An Oregon nurse has been arrested for allegedly using her patients’ pain medication and swapping it with tap water, risking “serious infections” in those she was meant to be looking after.

Dani Marie Schofield faces 44 counts of assault in the second degree – each charge reflective of a patient “affected by Schofield’s criminal actions,” the Medford Police Department said in a statement.

The intensive care unit nurse has been accused of diverting patients’ liquid fentanyl for personal use, and replacing it with unsterilized water, authorities said. The synthetic opioid is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Schofield worked at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, a 378-bed, level-two trauma center in Medford, Oregon.

The hospital first raised alarms to police almost seven months ago following concerns about increasing central line – the tubes put into large veins to administer medication – infections among its patients.

Oregon Medication Tampering
Oregon Medication Tampering (AP )

“There was concern that Schofield had been diverting patients’ liquid fentanyl for her personal use and then replacing it with tap water, causing serious infections,” Thursday’s police statement said.

It is not clear how many of the patients Schofield allegedly mishandled had died.

In March, the family of Asante patient Horace Wilson filed a lawsuit for $11.5m after he died from sepsis from being admitted to hospital with a lacerated spleen and broken ribs following a fall off a ladder on January 27, 2022.

The 65-year-old died less than a month later allegedly from tap water in his intravenous drip, which caused bacterium Staphylococcus to flood into his bloodstream, before progressing into mutli-system organ failure, according to the lawsuit.

The hospital and Schofield were both accused of negligence, as per the court filing.

Records from the Oregon State Board of Nursing show that the ICU nurse voluntarily agreed to a license suspension on November 22, 2023,  “pending completion of an investigation”.

On Thursday, Asante employees were thanked for their “tireless work since our team brought concerns forward to them,” as per an internal memo from the hospital’s CEO Tom Gessel, seen by NBC News following police announcing Schofield’s arrest.

“We are greatly appreciative of the countless hours their investigators have spent on this complex matter,” Gessel wrote.

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