A former nurse at the University of Colorado Hospital has been arrested for allegedly tampering with vials of pain medications intended for six patients, according to a recent report by The Denver Post.   Court documents referenced in the report stated Kacye Unruh “removed vials containing fentanyl or hydromorphone from the hospital’s dialysis area and replaced the vials with other substances.” A corresponding hospital press release stated Unruh claimed she “replaced the narcotics with sterile saline, when in fact she replaced the contents with material other than sterile saline.” Unruh “also said that she had not cross-contaminated material when in fact she had,” according to the release.

What is so infuriating about this incident is that Unruh was reportedly involved in a prior diversion incident at a medical clinic in Oklahoma and also reportedly failed a drug test in that state.  It is inexcusable that nurses and doctors struggling with substance abuse problems are allowed to victimize vulnerable patients in other states.   As I wrote in a previous post on this topic, “Improved reporting of such incidents will ensure that doctors and nurses struggling with powerful addictions get the help they need before, not after, their growing addictions fuel desperate tactics that expose patients to the harmful effects of diluted, contaminated, and ineffective pain medications.”