Investigations Heat Up into Alleged Drug Misuse at Asante Hospital

MEDFORD, Ore. —  Investigations into the alleged misuse of opioids resulting in deadly infections at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford are picking up pace. A local law firm specializing in personal injury is creating a team that will dedicate its time to claims of drug diversion at the hospital.

The local legal team joins the FBI, Medford Police and the Oregon Health Authority in an investigation to unravel claims by family members of the deceased of suspicious deaths at the hospital related to the misuse of drugs.

 

Medford Legal Team Joins Drug Diversion Investigation

A Medford personal injury law firm is busy building a case against Asante Medical Center where a nurse is believed to have swopped fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, with non-sterile tap water, resulting in the death of patients in the ICU.

Shlesinger & deVilleneuve Attorneys P.C. have already accepted four to five legitimate clients, with another five to six in the pipeline. David deVilleneuve said if the potential clients met criteria consistent with what the legal team already knew about the case, they would go ahead and call for copies of the patients Asante Hospital medical records.

Today, Medford PD said the Asante investigation is “actively ongoing. ”

Mr. deVilleneuve confirmed the appointment of a team to specialize in the Asante action, adding that his firm has received about 20 phone calls from family or former patients at the Medford hospital relating to the ongoing investigation.

He stated that Asante had contacted his clients and told them that they were victims of drug diversion. When Asante was asked by news reporters to confirm this information, they were told that the hospital was working closely with the police and had already reported the matter to them.

Lt. Geoff Kirkpatrick of the Medford Police has confirmed the ongoing investigation into the Asante drug diversion allegations. He said police had received calls from family members concerning the investigation. Lt. Kirkpatrick also confirmed that Asante has identified the victims and is busy contacting family members.

A report in the Rogue Valley Times says that residents of Klamath Falls and Grants Pass were notified that family members died in the Asante Medical Center from infections caused when a nurse used non-sterile tap water instead of the painkilling drug, fentanyl. The fatalities have occurred over the last 18 months.

The nurse is believed to have replaced the fentanyl in IV bags with tap water. The incidents started to occur late 2022.

 

Misuse of Drugs by Nurses

Asante has not commented on inquiries regarding drug testing for its nursing personnel.

Substance abuse among nurses is said to have increased during the pandemic, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. It states that 24 Oregon nurses were disciplined for drug thefts and substance abuse last year.

The number of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) increased at Asante in 2022. There were 10 cases of CLABSIs towards the end of 2022 listed in an internal report, and another four in January and February of 2023 – this was a significant spike compared with the total of only three infections throughout 2021.

The number of CLABSI dropped after the drug diversion allegations came under the spotlight.

CLABSIs is a term used to describe germs entering the bloodstream through an intravenous tube to feed a patient or to draw blood.

 

 

 

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