Nurse Accused of Replacing Patients' Fentanyl With Water

44 Oregon patients allegedly harmed, 16 of whom died
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
Nurse Accused of Replacing Patients' Fentanyl With Water
FILE - The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is seen, Jan. 4, 2024, in Medford, Ore.   (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian via AP, File)

An Oregon nurse is accused of replacing the fentanyl that had been prescribed to patients with non-sterile tap water, which was delivered to them via intravenous drips. Of the 44 patients authorities say were harmed by Dani Marie Schofield's alleged actions, 16 died—most while still hospitalized, but some after being discharged, Oregon Live reports. All the patients involved were vulnerable when the alleged switch took place, and were being treated in the intensive care unit of the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, the AP reports. Schofield, 36, pleaded not guilty Friday to 44 counts of second-degree assault.

In December, after noticing a spike in central line infections—caused when a germ is introduced through a central line used to administer medications—hospital officials notified police of their concerns that someone had been "diverting" fentanyl and causing the infections, which took place from July 2022 to July 2023. Prosecutors say Schofield, who stopped working at the hospital in July 2023, stole the fentanyl (an opioid prescribed to patients for pain relief) for her own personal use. She was not charged with murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide because investigators could not confirm patients' infections caused their deaths. Schofield is also the target of a civil suit from the estate of a man who died at the hospital in January 2022. (More fentanyl stories.)

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