One patient has died and about two dozen more have suffered from a bacterial infection that has been traced to contaminated IV bags that resulted from nursing malpractice.

An investigation into the wrongful death and illnesses has led to the belief that a nurse substituted narcotic painkillers with salt water in IV bags that were intended for patient use. Apparently this was in an effort to steal the drugs from the hospital and the patients who needed them.

In at least one case, this substitution proved to be fatal. According to autopsy results from the patient who died, that patient’s bloodstream tested positive for an infection when the patient was admitted to the hospital. However, the patient’s condition quickly worsened, and the patient did not survive.

In several other cases, the patients either landed in the intensive care unit or required unexpected surgery.

The nurse was criminally charged and pleaded guilty to stealing the prescription pain medications that were intended for patients. He is awaiting sentencing, and in the meantime has surrendered his nursing license.

A government investigation into the factors leading up to these illnesses and the death has resulted in the health department linking the medical problems to the contaminated IV bags.

However, the hospital denies this link and maintains that these patients were not harmed by the nurse’s actions or the IV bags. It is possible that this case, and others like it in Oregon, will require a medical malpractice lawsuit to be filed in order to uncover the truth of who is responsible for the wrongful death.

Source: Pioneer Press, “St. Cloud hospital refutes link between death, IV bag,” Oct. 3, 2012