Police: Surgical Nurse Stole Patient�s Meds
Staff claims Sarah May Casareto �visibly drugged�
Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 2:59 PM CST
Shelby Capacio / FOX 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS - Police said a nurse anesthetist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital deprived a surgery patient of pain medications so that she could take them herself.
According to the complaint, the Minneapolis Police Department was contacted by the victim on Dec. 4 and was alerted that a surgical procedure he underwent on Nov. 8 involved extraordinary pain.
Police later learned that one of the nurses charged with caring for the man, identified as Sarah May Casareto, 33, of Forest Lake, showed visible signs of intoxication during the procedure.
Police said that Casareto signed out 500mcg of Fentanyl, but could not account for 50mcg. Beyond that discrepancy, investigators said they believe that Casareto used the medication intended for her patient. A review of medication sheets indicated that she administered only 150mcg, and wasted about 300mcg.
The victim was prepped by hospital staff before beginning the surgery to remove kidney stones, and doctors told him that he would be provided with medication so that he would not have to feel pain; however, a complaint filed in Hennepin County states that Casareto told him, �you�re going to have to man up here and take some of the pain, because we can�t give you a lot of medication. You�re going straight into surgery.�
The man said that once the procedure began, he felt pain that nearly brought him off the table, and it was �enough just about to bring off the table.� In fact, one of the surgical assistants had to hold him down during the procedure, and suggested restraining him.
Hospital staff said, as the anesthetic nurse, Casareto was supposed to be monitoring his pain and sedation levels; however, while the patient was �screaming and moaning� other medical staff said Casareto told the victim to, �Go to your beach. Go to your happy place.�
Officers met with one of the surgical technicians who oversaw the procedure who reported that Casareto had complained about her eyes being red from swimming beforehand and asked the technician to flush them out with saline. When the technician refused, Casareto used a syringe to flush her eyes herself, police said.
The same technician also told officers that Casareto was using grand gestures during the surgery and was talking very loudly into the patient�s ear. She also struggled to put EKG leads on the patient or apply a blood pressure cuff, police said.
The doctor, who told police he has performed hundreds of similar procedures, said this one was unusual because of the amount of pain. Coworkers said they were concerned about Casareto�s behavior during the surgery, and described her as being distracted and disoriented, even knocking over medications, falling asleep and leaving the room mid-surgery to do paperwork.
The nurse manager was called when another technician noted that her behavior was unusual and that she was not tending to her patient, police said. Hospital staff said that Casareto had to be ordered to administer medication to the patient, but was sluggish and dropped the syringe in the process.
According to the complaint, Casareto was found with two syringes in her pocket after the procedure. Both had the labels peeled off, which is against hospital policy. When confronted by a colleague, the complaint alleges that Casareto emptied one syringe but threw it into the garbage instead of placing it in the proper disposal container.
Casaretto faces a charge of theft of a controlled substance.
A spokeswoman for Allina Hospitals & Clinics confirmed that Casareto no longer works at the hospital.
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