BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) – A nurse working in a Colorado mountain community has been charged with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and one of theft from a hospital after an investigation touched off by a test showing powerful painkiller in her system, a district attorney said Monday.
Kimberly Jeanne Burgans, 47, was freed on a $2,500 bond after surrendering Saturday afternoon, Summit County District Attorney Bruce Brown told The Associated Press. Brown said an investigation was opened after St. Anthony Summit Medical Center officials called a sheriff’s deputy Jan. 30 to report the results of a drug test showing fentanyl in Burgans’s system. Burgans did not have a prescription for the synthetic opiate that is more potent than morphine.
There was no published phone number for Burgans and the name of her attorney was not immediately available.
Brown said Burgans was charged March 9, when a judge issued a warrant for her arrest. She surrendered on that warrant, posted bond a few hours later and is to appear in court on April 20. She faces up to a year on each possession charge and six months on the theft charge, Brown said.
Hospital marketing manager Suzanne Lifgren told the AP Monday that Burgans was fired Jan. 27 “for violating hospital policies” and that the state nursing board and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency were notified of the circumstances along with the sheriff’s department. Hospital officials do not believe Burgans put patients at risk, in part because she was not working with drugs to be injected, Lifgren said.
Brown said Burgans was apparently obtaining drugs from the hospital pharmacy, claiming they were for her patients. For nearly a year she kept on hand more fentanyl than other hospital nurses needed for their patients, Brown said.
Lifgren said Burgans was employed through a traveling nurses company and worked out of state before coming to St. Anthony in November, 2014.
In Colorado, a surgery technician was arrested after he was seen taking a syringe filled with painkillers from an operating room at Swedish Medical Center near Denver in January. Federal prosecutors say the technician, Rocky Allen, has a history of moving from hospital to hospital and lying about his past to steal drugs. Swedish Medical Center and facilities where Allen worked in Arizona, California and Washington have advised patients who might have been receiving care when he was there to be tested for hepatitis and HIV as a safety precaution, but public health officials say there is a low risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens.
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