Police in Medford, Oregon are investigating a report of at least one “drug diversion” death at a local hospital.
The reports indicate that an ICU nurse at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center allegedly replaced fentanyl with tap water instead of sterile saline, resulting in the deaths of up to 9 patients.
Up to 9 patients may have died after a nurse injected tap water in intravenous lines to cover up fentanyl thefts.
Since tap water is not sterile it led to sepsis, a potentially deadly infection of internal organs caused by the pseudomonas bacteria.
Pseudomonas lives in water, soil and plants. The bacteria is harmless to most people, but it can be deadly if injected directly into an IV line of a patient with a weak immune system.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain analgesic. A recent study showed that 10% of nurses or doctors in hospitals across the country divert fentanyl for their own personal use.
A spokesperson for the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center confirmed to Oregon Live that the hospital is cooperating with local law enforcement.
The unnamed nurse has not been charged.
The spokesperson told Oregon Live that the investigation into the fentanyl diversion is in its “early stages.”