ICU nurse weeps in court after arrest for swapping patient meds with water as hospital chief warns of theft probe

Bail for Dani Marie Schofield, 36, was set at $4m as she also faces civil lawsuit

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Sunday 16 June 2024 21:46 BST
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An ICU nurse in Oregon is facing 44 counts of felony assault after she allegedly replaced liquid fentanyl pain medication with tap water to keep the drugs for herself.

Dani Marie Schofield, 36, pleaded not guilty at Jackson County Circuit Court on Friday. The grand jury indictment states that she caused infections at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford by replacing the drugs with water, according to KDRV.

Her request for a court-appointed attorney was recommended to be rejected, based on her assets of $380,000. Her bail was set at $4m as she appeared via videolink in the court.

Schofield was arrested on Thursday following a Medford Police Department drug diversion case investigation that lasted seven months. The probe began in December when Asante reported that drugs for its patients may have been diverted.

Investigators allege that Schofield replaced liquid fentanyl for 44 patients with water, which led to infections in those patients. Medford Police Chief Justin Ivens said on Thursday that 16 patients died but it hasn’t been proven that it was because of the infections caused by the water.

Schofield was indicted this week on a count of second-degree assault for each patient.

Dani Marie Schofield, 36, pleaded not guilty to 44 counts of felony assault. She is an ICU nurse accused of giving patients water instead of pain meds.
Dani Marie Schofield, 36, pleaded not guilty to 44 counts of felony assault. She is an ICU nurse accused of giving patients water instead of pain meds. (Jackson County Circuit Court)

Tom Gessel, president and chief executive officer of Asante, said in a memo obtained by KDRV that police had arrested a suspect related to “theft of fentanyl.”

A civil lawsuit was filed against Schofield in February by the Idiart Law Firm of Central Point. It claims that Schofield is responsible for the wrongful death of Horace Wilson, 65, in February 2022. The suit argued that fentanyl intended for Wilson was replaced with tap water, leading to an infection that resulted in his death within a month of him being admitted following a fall. Schofield has denied those allegations.

The former nurse made an agreement with the Oregon State Board of Nursing in November 2023 that she would not work as a nurse during the probe, according to KDRV.

MPD states that the 44 incidents took place during Schofield’s final year at Asante, between July 2022 and July 2023.

The Jackson District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the assaults under a measure that sets mandatory minimum jail sentences for major crimes and denies early release. The minimum for second-degree assault is 70 months behind bars, per assault count.

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