‘It’s not just here.’ Doctor speaks about Asante deaths investigation

MEDFORD, Ore. – We are continuing to follow the story involving a police investigation into what sources tell NBC5 includes multiple patient deaths at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Multiple Asante sources who do not want to be named tell us as many as eight or nine hospital patients died.

They say a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit replaced fentanyl medication used for pain with tap water.

Our sources tell us the tap water, which is not sterile, led to multiple infections of pseudomonas.  The Center for Disease Control says pseudomonas can be spread to people in healthcare settings who are exposed to contaminated water or soil.

The CDC says the most at risk of serious infection include those on breathing machines, those with devices such as catheters, and those with surgery or burn wounds.

The host of NBC5’s Docs on Call program, Dr. Robin Miller, says replacing drugs with other substances is called drug diversion.  She says isn’t a situation unique to the Rogue Valley.

“You can find other hospitals where this has happened and where pseudomonas infection has happened as a result. So it’s not just here,” Dr. Miller said.  “When I spoke to the people in Cleveland who had this happen there, they had the FBI and the DEA both involved.  And I suspect that’s what will happen here as well.”

Just last year, nurses from Boston, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Montana either pled guilty or were sentenced for drug diversion while working at hospitals.

According to various reports, fentanyl is one of the most commonly diverted drugs.

At this time, no one has been charged with a crime in the Asante investigation, but police are still investigating.

We reached out to the FBI and DEA Friday for comment.  We haven’t heard back.

NBC5 will continue to follow up on this investigation as the situation develops.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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