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Stroger Hospital nurse worked under the influence, took equipment, inspector general finds

Deborah Song, a spokeswoman for Cook County Health, said Friday evening the nurse is no longer employed in their network.

Emergency room nurse at Stroger Hospital is said to have taken IV equipment and administered IV flushes outside the hospital without physician approval.
A nurse at Stroger Hospital is said to have taken IV equipment and administered IV flushes outside the hospital without physician approval, Cook County Independent Inspector General Patrick Blanchard found. The nurse no longer works at the hospital.
Sun-Times file

An emergency room nurse at Stroger Hospital is said to have taken and used equipment and IV solution outside the hospital without a physician’s approval and on at least one occasion treated patients while high off a marijuana edible, according to a report released Friday.

The nurse, who is not identified, administered IV treatments to at least three people outside the hospital, using equipment taken from the hospital, Cook County Independent Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said in his report covering the fourth quarter of 2020.

After an investigation, Blanchard recommended the nurse be terminated immediately, placed on an “ineligible for hire list” and that the agency that licensed the nurse be notified.

Deborah Song, a spokeswoman for Cook County Health, said Friday evening the nurse is no longer employed in their network.

The person who raised the complaint said she was living with her daughter in a home owned by the nurse and on multiple occasions the nurse gave them IV flushes. The daughter’s fiancé also received an IV flush and recorded the treatment on his phone.

The three said the nurse even offered to add morphine to the mix — a drug the nurse told each of them she took from Stroger Hospital.

“Based on the evidence, the ER nurse, as a licensed RN, did not have the authority to perform invasive medical procedures outside of a hospital environment absent explicit authorization and/or supervision from a licensed physician,” the report said.

Blanchard’s office interviewed a nurse manager, three people who received saline flushes from the nurse and analyzed text messages and videos showing a person getting an IV treatment.

One set of videos shows the nurse preparing to administer an IV inside the complainant’s home. Another video shows the complainant lying in bed while receiving an IV treatment from an IV bag attached to the wall above her head.

The ER nurse refused to be interviewed for the investigation, according to the report.

Also included in the report are screenshots of a series of text messages; among them is a photo of the nurse’s hand, in which she holds a gummy. The nurse in a text says the gummy is a marijuana edible. She then sends texts describing what it is like for her to be high while working in the emergency room.

She said her body was tingling and later numb. At one point she was so intoxicated she was unable to focus while inserting IVs into patients’ arms. Still, she bragged about being able to insert IVs in one try.

“Cook County Health works diligently to create a healing environment that is the safest for our patients,” Song, the agency’s spokeswoman, said. “We take any allegations seriously and have many safeguards in place to thoroughly investigate matters. ... The findings are extremely upsetting.”