St. Anthony Summit Medical Center nurse accused of stealing painkillers
A nurse recently fired from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco was arrested over the weekend on charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, according to a news release from the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Kimberly Jeanne Burgans, 47, of Silverthorne, turned herself into the Summit County Sheriff’s Office on March 19, after formal charges were filed against her on Wednesday, March 9, the same day a warrant was issued for her arrest. She faces two counts of possession of a scheduled narcotic by means of fraud, both class 4 drug felonies, and a class 3 misdemeanor charge of theft of property valued at between $200 and $300. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail.
“It’s a serious case because it’s a drug diversion from a medical facility,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown. “Obviously, St. Anthony’s became aware of suspicious conduct by Ms. Burgans, so they did the right thing and took appropriate action in order to ensure no further diversion and then contacted the authorities. The investigation is continuing, and it’s not a simple case, but it doesn’t seem to be anything more than intended possession for personal use.”
Specifically, Burgans is accused of pocketing doses of injectable fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used as a painkiller intended for hospital patients to whom she was previously attending. From December 2015 through this January, she was discovered to be in possession of the drug in excess of amounts typically needed by nurses for treating patients.
According to the arrest affidavit, the hospital called the sheriff’s office on Jan. 30 after she was also found to have the narcotic in her system without a prescription after a prior physical. These test results did not comply with hospital policy while employed as a registered nurse, and St. Anthony also notified the Colorado State Nursing Board.
“St. Anthony Medical Center has clear clinical guidelines and policies surrounding the safe handing, dispensing and disposal of narcotics,” the hospital released in a statement. “Burgans was terminated from the hospital on Jan. 27, 2016 for violating hospital policies.”
The statement went on to say that the hospital conducted an internal investigation and found there is no reason to believe any patients were harmed by her actions, and that the hospital remains vigilant in efforts to ensure the safety and well being of its patients.
She was hired at the hospital through a Denver nursing agency in November 2014 before being dismissed from the position in January of this year. She has been a registered nurse licensed by the State Department of Regulatory Affairs since January 2014.
Burgans bonded out the same day she surrendered herself to the sheriff’s office, March 19, after bail was set at $2,500. She awaits a formal hearing, and the date of her first court appearance has yet to be set.
A phone number for her could not be located, and the name of her attorney was unknown at the time this story was published.
“It’s our philosophy to deal with the violation of law, in that it’s fraud minded in terms of what consequence will come of it,” said Brown. “It would appear the focus should be on rehabilitation. When we charge a case involving possession, usually that points to the type of sentence that would not be punitive but rehabilitative.”
Burgans’ arrest marks the third of the year in Summit County connected to the deadly drug fentanyl. A grand jury indicted William Walker Lancaster, 27, of Blue River, and Brandon Johnson, 24, of Frisco, on Feb. 22, and each was charged with felony manslaughter following 34-year-old Breckenridge resident Mark Largay’s death from overdose of the drug on Nov. 2, 2015.
Of the seven accidental drug overdose deaths in Summit County in the previous year, four, including Largay’s, were linked to fentanyl, which is between 50 and 80 times more potent than morphine. Common forms of the drug include injection, transdermal patch and lozenge form.
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