CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCAU) – An eastern Iowa nurse has been sentenced to federal prison for stealing medication from an unconscious patient’s IV.
Kelly Kristin Postel, 43, of Monticello, was sentenced on Friday in District Court in Cedar Rapid to four months in federal prison for stealing fentanyl and morphine from an unconscious patient by withdrawing the drugs from the patient’s IV line while they were in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) in December 2018.
Postel received her prison term after pleading guilty on February 4, 2020, to two counts of acquiring morphine and fentanyl on multiple occasions from October 2018 through December 2018, according to the Northern District of Iowa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
During her plea agreement, Postel admitted that she obtained fentanyl and morphine by getting an extra amount of those pain medications from the hospital pharmacy and administering only the prescribed amount of medication to patients between October 2018 and December 2018.
The documents also stated that Postel then used the rest of the pain medication while she was still working as a registered nurse caring for patients in the hospital.
Postel also admitted that she was caring for patients in the ICU at a Cedar Rapids hospital on December 10, 2018.
Documents stated that Postel went into an unconscious patient’s room, used a syringe to remove fentanyl and other drugs from the patient’s IV line, and then used the substances in the employee restroom at the hospital while she was still on duty.
Postel also said she was impaired in her judgment and in being able to do routine nursing tasks after taking the pain medications, even though she was still caring for patients.
Postel was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment and fined $5,500. She was also ordered to pay restitution for the drugs she stole, costs of prosecution, and forfeit her nursing license.
Postel must also serve a one-year term of supervised release following her prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Health care providers who steal drugs from the patients they care for place those patients in the medical system at risk. This office always stands ready to protect those who are unlawfully exploited by others. We especially thank the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their outstanding work investigating this case,” U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. said.
“Health care professionals who steal needed medications from patients put patients at increased risk of harm and disrupt the legal drug supply chain. We will continue to protect the public health and bring to justice health care professionals who take advantage of their unique position and compromise their patients’ health and comfort by tampering with needed drugs,” FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office Special Agent in Charge, Charles L. Grinstead said.
Postel was released on the conditions previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date that is yet to be determined.