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ICU nurse charged with replacing patients' fentanyl with water

June 13 (UPI) -- Medford, Ore., police have arrested a former Intensive Care Unit nurse for allegedly stealing patients' pain medication, replacing fentanyl with non-sterile tap water, the Medford Police Department announced Thursday.

The arrest of Dani Mari Schofield comes seven months after officials at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford contacted police to express concern that a growing number of patients were exhibiting signs of 'central line' infections and were worried that Schofield had been diverting the drugs and using them.

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A central line is inserted intravenously and patients are given all of their medications through that single line.

"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," a statement from Medford police said.

The investigation determined that all the patients who wound up with central line infections were in the ICU and had the infections within a specific date range. "Based on records and interviews, investigators were able to determine that ICU nurse Schofield had access to each of these victims," the police statement said.

They added that questionable deaths associated with this case could not be directly attributed to the infections.

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Police said they spent months pouring over "volumes of hospital records," and interviewed nearly 100 people, including nurses, doctors and patients.

Schofield is facing 44 counts of assault in the second degree, charges that prosecutors say "reflect the total amount of patients that this investigation revealed to have been affected by Schofield's criminal actions," Medford police said.

Officials have not said how many of the drug swap incidents led to patient infections or death, but the family of Horace Wilson, a patient at the 378-bed Asante facility in Medford who died after being admitted with a lacerated spleen and several broken ribs following a fall from a ladder in 2022, has filed a lawsuit naming Schofield and Asante as defendants.

The lawsuit says that while he was hospitalized, Wilson's pain medication was replaced with tap water, which introduced bacteria into his bloodstream and eventually caused his death.

The lawsuit accuses Asante and Schofield of negligence.

Oregon State Board of Nursing documents show that Schofield voluntarily agreed to a license suspension in November 2023 "pending completion of an investigation" of drug diversion incidents.

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