Thousands of doses of fentanyl, other drugs reported missing from local hospital

The family of one nurse accused of taking the drugs is speaking out.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 4:28 PM CST
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FENTON (KMOV) - A local hospital claimed it cannot find thousands of doses of fentanyl and other controlled drugs meant for patients.

Fentanyl is a drug that’s caused many overdose deaths. But it’s also used in hospitals, very effectively and safely, for sick patients to relieve pain.

Now, the family of one nurse accused of taking those drugs is speaking out. They told News 4 that the hospital system didn’t do enough.

In the documents obtained by News 4 Investigates, one local hospital reported a very large amount of their drugs missing. SSM St. Clare in Fenton sent a complaint to the state board of nursing in June last year. They claimed that one nurse, whom News 4 is choosing not to name, took hundreds of vials of fentanyl and other drugs from their dispensing machines.

That nurse was fired, but the hospital said there was an ongoing investigation into others in the unit. In all, the hospital told the state that nearly 4,000 vials of meds were missing.

Now, the nurse’s family is speaking out exclusively to News 4 and claiming he was simply the fall guy.

“We’re talking about two gallons here of fentanyl and versed,” said a family member of the nurse who was terminated.

In the medical field themselves, the family member wanted anonymity. But they want to ensure more is done so that dangerous drugs don’t end up in the community.

“I think there needs to be a revamp in policy and regulation, SSM needs to be held accountable for their actions in not following policy and regulation, and my dad’s name needs to be cleared.”

That nurse, according to documents and his attorney, admitted to taking some of the drugs, but only a fraction of the amount SSM said was missing.

All this is further complicated, though, by the fact that the nurse is now deceased, his death certificate says, from chronic alcoholism. That could mean the investigation into his actions is now over.

But there are still a lot of questions. News 4 Investigates will keep digging into this and bring you any more details we receive.

An SSM spokesperson sent News 4 the following response for this article:

“At SSM Health we take (drug) diversion matters very seriously. We investigate and report to all appropriate authorities, including regulatory and licensing agencies and fully cooperate with any law enforcement investigations. All investigations relating to this matter have been closed. In keeping with our mission and values, we provide ongoing support including privacy to all those involved.”

Jennifer Wiegert, SSM Health regional director of communications

News 4 Investigates also reached out to the Board of Nursing to find out if the investigation was ongoing. They responded, “According to section 324.001.8, RSMo, “All educational transcripts, test scores, complaints, investigatory reports, and information pertaining to any person who is an applicant or licensee of any agency assigned to the division of professional registration by statute or by the department are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public or any member of the public, except with the written consent of the person whose records are involved.” They also said this does not change if an individual is deceased.