A former nurse suspected of trying to steal pain medication from patients’ rooms at Swedish Medical Center in April was charged Monday, according to the Seattle Police Department.
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office charged Rachel Nezat, 39, of Seattle, with two counts of property destruction and one count of criminal trespass in the first degree. The counts — all gross misdemeanors — carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and $5,000.
Police said Nezat entered patients’ rooms at the Broadway hospital on April 13 acting as if she were a staff member and checking patient-administered pain-medication machines. She wore clothing similar to nurses scrubs and used medical terminology. She entered a room around 10:40 a.m. and the patient asked what she was doing, because he knew she wasn’t his regular nurse. When the real nurse arrived, she noticed the patient’s machine line had been cut and his pain medication was dripping on the floor.
There was another report of the same woman on another floor looking in patients’ rooms shortly after the first incident, according to police. Nezat told a hospital staff member she was there to check the pain-medication machines, and the staff member thought nothing of it, because two machines had recently been taken out of service.
Nezat then went into another room where family members were visiting a patient. She tried to open the machine, but an alarm went off. As Nezat left the room, a family member noticed blood dripping on the floor and that the line to the machine had been cut. Nezat took two feet of tubing from the machines and possibly some medication, police said.
Detectives were able to identify Nezat from surveillance video.
Nezat is no stranger to Swedish Medical Center or the criminal justice system, according to court documents. In 2008, while working as a registered nurse at the hospital, she took more than 150 vials of hydromorphine for her own use by falsifying hospital records.
Nezat submitted to a drug test in September 2008 after the diversion was uncovered and tested positive for high levels of the drug. She was fired the same day, court papers say. She then took a job at Highline West Seattle Mental Health Center, where she forged a prescription script for 30 tablets of oxycodone. She was terminated from Highline Hospital in December 2008.
She pleaded guilty in 2009 to the felony offense of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, deception, and subterfuge. She was sentenced to two years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, restitution paid to Swedish Hospital and participation in a substance-abuse treatment program.