Hospital workers caught stealing narcotics often not reported to police or federal authorities

From The Denver Post:  Dr. Joely Nelson slumped from a living room chair onto a pillow on the hearth of the fireplace, her face scorched from the heat, her dead body riddled with drugs. A fellow anesthesiologist found her there after Nelson, 44, failed to show up for work at a Vail Valley Medical Center facility. He said she was depressed, upset about having a long-term disease and had killed herself.

Avon police and a medical examiner agreed that she died, probably intentionally, of a drug overdose. The hospital’s safety manager told police she doubted the syringes and pills around her could have come from Vail Valley.

But a hospital report to the state showed Nelson had removed fentanyl, a powerful narcotic, and another drug illegally. The autopsy found cocaine and narcotic drugs in her blood. She died with old and new puncture marks in her legs.

A used syringe with a butterfly catheter and syringes of fentanyl were found next to anesthesiologist Joely Nelson’s body when she was discovered dead in her Avon home in 2014. (Provided by Avon Police Department)

So how did the Vail hospital inform the public about the death of a drug-addicted anesthesiologist in February 2014?

It didn’t. As in hundreds of other drug-theft cases, hospital patients never learn if someone who treated them was involved.

Other hospitals can be left uninformed as well. Colorado hospitals from Craig to Englewood have been duped by applicants with a history of drug addiction.

In Colorado, hospital workers who get caught stealing powerful narcotics often aren’t reported to police or to federal authorities. Unless the state takes formal action against them, their names don’t show up on licensing disciplinary lists. There is little to keep a small but dangerous number of doctors, nurses and surgical technologists from moving from hospital to hospital, taking with them their addictions and risks to patients.

Visit The Denver Post for more.


Subscribe to Our Blog