Oregon Nurse Arrested for Stealing Fentanyl, Replacing IV Fluids with Tap Water; 16 Patients Dead

By Madz Dizon

Jun 18, 2024 04:17 AM EDT

Oregon Nurse Arrested for Stealing Fentanyl, Replacing IV Fluids with Tap Water; 16 Patients Dead

(Photo : Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

A former nurse at a southern Oregon hospital is now facing criminal charges for allegedly causing harm to almost forty-four patients.

AP News said it is alleged that she stole fentanyl and substituted it with non-sterile tap water in intravenous drips.

Oregon Nurse Swaps Fentanyl With Tap Water in Patients' IV Drip

Several patients experienced severe infections, resulting in the unfortunate loss of 16 lives. However, authorities have clarified that they did not pursue charges of murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide.

This decision was made due to the inability of investigators to definitively link the infections to the cause of death.

According to the Medford Police Department, the patients were already in a vulnerable state and receiving treatment in the hospital's intensive care unit.

A former nurse at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Dani Marie Schofield, 36, was arrested last week and is now facing 44 counts of second-degree assault.

According to The Oregonian/OregonLive, she entered a plea of not guilty on Friday and is currently being held on $4 million bail.

The police department stated in a news release that after thoroughly examining hospital records, patient records, and pathology reports, they sought the opinion of several medical experts.

All of these experts reached a consensus that the questionable deaths linked to this case could not be definitively attributed to the infections.

An investigation was initiated in late last year when hospital officials observed a concerning increase in central line infections from July 2022 through July 2023.

They promptly informed the police, suspecting that an employee had been diverting fentanyl, resulting in negative outcomes for patients.

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44 Patients or Representatives File Legal Complaint

David deVilleneuve, an Oregon attorney, has been in contact with approximately forty-eight former patients or their representatives who are considering legal action regarding their treatment by Schofield.

DeVilleneuve expressed his surprise at the prosecutors' decision not to charge Schofield with manslaughter.

However, he pointed out that establishing her responsibility for the deaths would be more challenging in a criminal case, where the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, compared to a civil case, where it is based on a preponderance of the evidence.

He remarked that the burden of proof on their part is more demanding than on his.

Last December, Asante reached out to the Medford police regarding a former employee suspected of being involved in the theft of fentanyl prescribed to patients, which led to negative patient outcomes, according to the complaint.

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