One of our recent blog posts discussing harm visited upon patients by medical error (hospital negligence) occurring in U.S. hospitals cited a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that nearly 100,000 Americans die annually from infections they receive while being treated at a medical facility.
Most of those infections certainly don't occur under circumstances such as those that happened from the latter part of 2010 through early March of this year at a hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where a nurse routinely engaged in the act of stealing pain medication from patients under her care, inadvertently giving them bacterial infections in the process.
This is far more than a mere story of failure to treat infection. Rather, it is a case where 23 patients - and potentially more, with the hospital currently interviewing a number of former patient s- had their pain meds taken from IV bags with a syringe and then replaced by the nurse with saline or air.
A spokesperson at St. Cloud Hospital says that none of the infections received were life-threatening, and that all patients were satisfactorily treated with antibiotics. To prevent a similar occurrence in the future, the hospital has replaced all its IV bags with newer models containing exterior bags that facility officials say will readily indicate any attempts at tampering.
In the meantime, the nurse has been suspended from her duties, while both the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration continue to investigate the matter.
Related Resource: www.startribune.com "St. Cloud nurse accused of theft, infecting patients" March 16, 2011