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Billings Clinic nurse caught replacing patient drugs with saline - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Billings Clinic nurse caught replacing patient drugs with saline

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BILLINGS -

A Billings hospital notified patients on Monday that a nurse has been exchanging narcotic medication for saline, a sterile salt water solution, according to a press release Tuesday.

A former Cath Lab nurse was terminated by Billings Clinic after he was caught exchanging the drug fentanyl for patients.

Fentanyl is a narcotic used as a sedative for patients.

Billings Clinic mailed letters to 341 patients who may have been affected. In addition, all patients are being personally contacted by Billings Clinic clinicians and a call center has been established to answer questions.

The hospital reassured patients that it found no evidence that patients were exposed to infections including Hepatitis C and HIV.

Hospital officials tested the nurse's blood for those infections and results were clear.

"Billings Clinic immediately reported this matter to the appropriate state and federal authorities and is cooperating fully with their investigation," the press release stated. "In addition, the clinic terminated the nurse’s employment and is conducting an internal investigation. The former employee started at Billings Clinic in August of 2016."

Billings Clinic will adjust patient bills to remove charges for all sedating medications used during these Cath Lab procedures.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and our focus is to support our patients,” stated Dr. Camilla Saberhagen, the clinic's chief quality and patient safety officer. “We are working to identify ways to strengthen our safeguards and reduce the risk of theft and potential threats to patient safety.”

The dedicated phone line for Cath Lab patients to call if they have any questions is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 406-657-4355, or toll-free at 844-830-3590. They may leave a message 24 hours a day.

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