Nurse gets two years for drug theft

March 21, 2013 at 9:26 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, March 21 (UPI) -- A nurse from Minnesota was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing intravenous pain medication at a hospital that spread an infection to 25 patients.

Blake Zenner, 43, was sentenced Wednesday by a federal judge in Minneapolis for a four-month period in 2010, during which he siphoned some of the painkiller Dilaudid out of patients' IV drip bags at St. Cloud Hospital, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported.

Along with prison time, Zenner was also ordered to pay $340,000 restitution.

Zenner, who became addicted to the medication while recovering from surgery to repair a hernia, drained Dilaudid out of the IV bags and replaced the missing liquid with saline from a bottle. The bottle, however, was contaminated and infected 25 patients at the hospital with a rare bacteria.

"This was an extremely callous and cruel crime," U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz said when sentencing Zenner. He said, however, he did not sentence him to the four years the prosecution recommended because he "has done everything right."

Following an investigation into the infections at the hospital, Zenner admitted to his crime and agreed to a plea bargain. He has since completed a rehabilitation program and apologized to the hospital and the patients.

"I will spend the rest of my life trying to correct this terrible wrong that I am responsible for. Even at that, I will come up short," Zenner told the judge Wednesday.

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