CRNA gets prison sentence, $15K fine for drug tampering in surgery, birthing centers

A certified registered nurse anesthetist in Charles City, Iowa, received a 34-month federal prison sentence and $15,000 fine May 29 for tampering with fentanyl vials in a hospital's surgery and birthing centers, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.

What you should know:

1. The CRNA, Christopher West, pleaded guilty in August 2019 to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of illegally acquiring a controlled substance.

2. The illegal activity occurred at a Charles City hospital from February 2018 through Sept. 7, 2018, when a visitor found Mr. West passed out in a public bathroom with drug vials in his coat pocket.

3. Mr. West later admitted to administering three different anesthetics to a young patient in part so he could access narcotics for personal use. That patient experienced complications.

4. Upon review, the hospital discovered 28 tampered vials of fentanyl and 15 tampered vials of sufentanil in its birthing and surgery centers, according to the Courier.

5. As early as December 2017, Mr. West allegedly used fentanyl in colonoscopies and cataract surgeries. He is accused of giving 1 in 4 spinal anesthesia patients narcotics that weren't sufficient for alleviating labor pain so that the women giving birth would also require general anesthesia.

6. During his recent sentencing in district court, Mr. West was ordered to pay the hospital $31,998.34 in restitution. He must also pay more than $3,000 for prosecution costs, forfeit his two Iowa nursing licenses, and surrender to the U.S. Marshal on a date yet to be determined.

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