Investigation Links Patient Death To Nurse Stealing Narcotics
(St. Cloud, MN) -- The state Health Department has linked the death of a patient at Saint Cloud Hospital to a former nurse who allegedly spread a bacterial infection while stealing narcotics from a surgical ward. Epidemiologists determined all 25 patients had been given the same intravenous narcotic pain medication. Experts found the bacteria were accidentally introduced into patients' I-V bags while a hospital employee diverted the narcotics for personal use. 42-year-old Blake Zenner of Kimball admitted he accessed lock-boxes during work and used syringes to remove the drugs from the I-V bags. Of 25 infected patients, six were placed in intensive care, three needed emergency surgery, and one died two days after being infected. Zenner pleaded guilty last week and faces up to four years in federal prison. A spokeswoman for Saint Cloud Hospital says they "respectfully disagree" with the Health Department that a death occurred from the drug diversion. The spokeswoman says the patient tested positive for an infection when admitted and quickly deteriorated.