Nurse Under Investigation After Patient’s Fentanyl Drip Replaced With Tap Water, According To Lawsuit

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Samuel Spencer Contributor
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An Oregon hospital and former nurse are facing a wrongful death lawsuit after a man was allegedly killed because his fentanyl drip was allegedly replaced with non-sterile tap water, according to multiple reports.

The suit was filed against Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford on Monday. The patient’s estate is suing the hospital and the nurse, Dani Marie Schofield, for nearly $11.5 million, according to KOIN.

In early 2022, Horace Earl Wilson reportedly fell off a ladder and was taken to the hospital. The 65-year-old man suffered broken ribs, spleen laceration and active bleeding. He underwent a splenectomy Jan. 28 and remained in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to KOIN.

Horace’s condition worsened, and doctors found he had a bacterial infection in his blood, KOIN reported. The medical center then ordered Schofield to administer fentanyl to Horace on Jan. 29, court documents reportedly say. The lawsuit claims the nurse replaced the fentanyl with non-sterile tap water, pumping even more bacteria into Horace’s bloodstream, according to KOIN.

Horace’s condition continued to decline over the course of about a month.

“On February 12, 2022, Asante clinicians noted unexplained high fevers, very high white blood cell counts, and a precipitous decline,” Idiart Law Group said, KOIN reported. “As a result of persistent treatment-resistant sepsis, Horace Wilson progressed to multi-system organ failure. He developed worsening sepsis-induced brain dysfunction which in turn led to worsening encephalopathy, severe confusion, and ongoing ventilator dependence.”

Horace eventually told staff he “no longer wished to live this way” and died February 25, 2022, according to KOIN. (RELATED: Blue State Stopped Jailing Fentanyl Users. It’s Going About As Well As You’d Expect)

In Jan. 2024, the Medford Police Department (MPD) revealed it had launched an investigation regarding theft of substance, a crime against patients. Schofield reportedly agreed to a voluntary nursing license suspension in November 2023. No charges have yet to be levied against Schofield, CBS News reported.

Southern Oregon lawyer Justin Idiart says he represents nine other patients whose medication was replaced, all of whom were allegedly treated by Schofield, according to CBS News.

Oregon leaders declared a state of emergency in January in connection to the state’s fentanyl overdose crisis. In 2023, Multnomah County Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey supported a program that distributed drug paraphernalia to fentanyl and other hard drug users.