A former nurse faces felony drug charges after she allegedly stole, tampered with and diluted the painkiller Dilaudid while working at Lakeview Hospital.
Leah Ann Jenness, 36, of Stillwater was charged by the Washington County Attorney’s Office with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
According to the complaint:
The investigation began after a nurse walked into a suspicious scene in a medicine room on Dec. 20 at Lakeview Hospital.
The nurse reportedly found Jenness, 36, of Stillwater standing next to a machine nurses use to access prescription drugs for patients. After Jenness left the medicine room, the nurse discovered a small open cup with a clear liquid—and a used syringe that was filled with a clear liquid—sitting on the counter next to the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, the nurse noticed the seal had been broken on a syringe of Dilaudid, a hydromorphone.
To access the medications, a nurse must use identification, the complaint states, and each syringe of Dilaudid contains exactly one 1-milligram dosage. Whatever amount is not used is considered "waste" and the nurse administering the drug, along with another nurse witness, are directed to dispose of the "waste" down a drain.
Jenness was confronted about possibly stealing and tampering with Dilaudid, the complaint states. The next day she resigned via an email to Lakeview Hospital.
Hospital staff told detectives that Jenness “was acting suspicious and was seen with ‘pin point’ pupils and was extremely anxious.”
Lakeview officials told police they believe Jenness was tampering with Dilaudid by extracting the medication and replacing it with a saline solution.
“Of the initial syringes that were alleged to have been tampered with, an examination showed the presence of Dilaudid, however, the amount had been diluted,” the complaint states. “A control (nontampered syringe of Dilaudid) showed the average amount of hyrdromorphone (ml/ml) to be .168 and one tampered syringe showed a concentration of only .012.”
The hospital also reported an increase in "waste" of Dilaudid by Jenness over the past few weeks.
One example cited in the complaint alleges that Jenness removed a total of 7 milligrams of Dilaudid from the prescription drug machine—of which, 2.2 milligrams were administered to patients; 4.4 milligrams were described as "waste;" and .4 milligrams was “unaccounted for.”
Hospital Staff believe Jenness was stealing the "waste" medication.
If convicted, Jenness faces a maximum of five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.