April 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM
Nurse impersonator at Swedish stole pain medication from patients’ rooms
A woman impersonating a nurse is still at large after trying to steal pain medication from at least three patients’ rooms at Swedish Medical Center on Broadway in Seattle this month.
The Seattle Police Department says the woman entered patients’ bedrooms as if she were a member of the hospital staff checking patient-administered pain-medication machines. The white woman, described as being in her 30s or 40s with shoulder-length blonde hair wore clothes similar to nurse’s scrubs — a blue blouse, black pants and shiny black shoes.
In the first theft, the woman entered a room at about 10:40 a.m. on April 13, according to police. The patient in the room asked what she was doing because he didn’t recognize her. As she left, she told him she would get his real nurse. When the real nurse did come in, she noticed the victim’s pain medication line had been cut and that the medication was dripping on the floor. The medication machine also had marks from where the suspect pried it open.
Shortly after that, a similar suspect was reported on another floor looking into patients’ rooms. When a member of the hospital staff asked what she was doing, the suspect told her she was checking the pain medication machines, according to police.
The suspect was then bold enough, police said, to enter yet another patient’s room while family was visiting. But this time, as she fiddled with the machine, an alarm went off and she left. A family member told police they could see blood dripping on the floor and that the line to the pain medication machine had been cut.
By the time the suspect left, she had taken about 2 feet of tubing from the pain medication machines and possibly some pain medication left inside them.
Though the incidents reportedly occurred April 13, the Seattle Police Department says it was not contacted about the incidents until April 17.
Swedish spokesman Ed Boyle said Swedish clinical and security staff are investigating the incident, including the delay in reporting to police. In a statement, the hospital said no harm came to any Swedish patients, and it has provided surveillance photos to police in hopes of identifying the suspect.
“We take the safety and security of our patients very, very seriously,” Boyle said. Every such incident is an opportunity for the hospital to improve procedures, he said.
It has already cautioned staff to look for unfamiliar people in their units and question them, he said.
“We have very well defined, strict protocols in place,” said Boyle, who added it’s not yet clear why the incident was not immediately reported to police.
“We haven’t completed that part of our investigation yet,” he said. “That will be thoroughly looked at and (protocols) will be more sound than they are already.”
Below is a surveillance video provided by Seattle police.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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