HIV-Positive Nurse Who May Have Infected Patients Through Hospital Narcotics Supply Indicted on Charges of Fraudulently Obtaining Controlled Substances
Jacqueline Fillingim, an HIV-positive nurse who may have infected patients at the South Texas Regional Medical Center in Jourdanton, Texas, with HIV by contaminating the hospital's narcotics supply, was indicted yesterday by an Atascosa County grand jury on seven charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, the Associated Press reports. According to hospital officials, Fillingim, a nurse in the hospital's intensive care and surgical wards from June 2001 through early January, illegally injected herself with Demerol from the hospital's drug supply during her tenure and may have tainted vials of the drug if she used the same needle to refill the vials with saline to avoid detection of the theft. The indictments allege Fillingim used false information to obtain the Demerol from a machine and that she amended a patient's record to show the drug had been prescribed. Such fraud is considered a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison (Associated Press, 7/16). In April, Fillingim voluntarily surrendered her nursing license to the State Board of Nurse Examiners. By doing so, Fillingim agreed to charges that she issued the drug without a doctor's order, failed to properly document administration of the drug and inappropriately used the narcotic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/4). Hospital administrators have sent letters to more than 1,000 former patients advising them to be tested for HIV, even though the risk of infection is minimal, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.