How Many Drug-Addicted Nurses Are Working in Colorado Hospitals?

November 24 2009, 10:09 AM

It turns out Kristen Diane Parker was just the first of many drug-addicted nurses to get busted lurking in the hallways of Colorado's hospitals, stealing medications from their patients. The latest (that we know of) is Ashton Paul Daigle of Boulder Community Hospital, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to six charges in a case eerily similar to Parker's. He admitted to stealing the same drug as Parker---fentanyl---and refilling vials with useless saline solution, and he reportedly even used dirty needles on patients. Now, Geri Oliveira, one of Daigle's alleged victims, has filed a lawsuit recounting the horrible consequences of Daigle's actions. She claims she underwent an operation at the hospital and suffered "extreme pain" after being administered what was supposed to be fentanyl, writes the Daily Camera. She did not notice "any decreased sense of awareness" on the surgical table, according to the suit. Daigle is slated to be sentenced in coming months, but that probably won't help you rest any easier, considering CBS4's recent investigation. Experts in Colorado say there could be thousands of nurses with addiction or substance abuse problems working every day in health-care facilities. The Nursing Peer Health Assistance Program has treated about 500 nursing professionals in the last 15 months. Program Director Rebecca Heck adds, "There are people out there who need help who are not receiving treatment."