ashland.news
May 26, 2024

Medford police send Asante drug-diversion investigation results to Jackson County DA

An entrance to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. Rogue Valley Times file photo
April 25, 2024

Former nurse named in civil lawsuit on behalf of estate of man who died at hospital; local law firms expect dozens of cases

By Buffy Pollock, Rogue Valley Times

Medford police have concluded an investigation into “theft and misuse of controlled substances by a former Asante nurse that resulted in serious infections in numerous patients,” the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said in a release Thursday.

The announcement comes nearly four months after Medford police first confirmed in early January the department was investigating claims of alleged drug diversion at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center that allegedly resulted in “adverse patient care.”

Patrick Green, chief deputy district attorney with the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

The investigation began in December 2023 and “involved the review of tens of thousands of documents, including medical records and interviews with dozens of witnesses,” the release said.

“I would like (to) thank the Medford Police Department for its diligent and meticulous work on this complex and expansive investigation,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Patrick Green said in the release. “I want to assure the community that I am working hard to review the results of the investigation expeditiously. If charges are filed, I will remain the lead prosecutor and assign two other senior prosecutors as co-counsel to assist with the prosecution. I share the community’s concern with this case and will ensure it remains a top priority going forward.”

The DA’s office said, due to the “ongoing nature of this investigation and the possibility of future pending criminal charges,” no further details would be released.

While neither Asante officials nor Medford police have publicly named a suspect and no arrests have been made in the case, 36-year-old Medford RN Dani Marie Schofield was identified in a civil suit filed by Idiart Law Group in Central Point on behalf of the estate of 65-year-old Horace “Buddy” Wilson.

Late Klamath Falls resident Roberta Porter is pictured with her son Shawn in July 2020. The 71-year-old was admitted to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in early December 2022 with breathing problems. Porter’s cause of death was reported as multi-system organ failure, severe sepsis with shock and acute cholangitis, most commonly caused by a bacterial infection of the bile ducts. Family photo

Wilson died Feb. 25, 2022, the suit alleges, after Schofield repeatedly swapped prescribed fentanyl with non-sterile tap water, which she administered through Wilson’s bloodstream via his central line, according to court documents.

The suit, which seeks $11.5 million in damages, is the first to be filed among what local law firms anticipate will be dozens of cases against the hospital system.

Prior to the case filed by Idiart, the Rogue Valley Times interviewed a handful of families who said they were contacted by Asante officials in December.

The interviews established that several deaths occurred between November 2022 and July 2023, though Idiart and Medford attorney David deVilleneuve both claimed to have reviewed infections that occurred even earlier.

Attorney David deVilleneuve of Schlesinger & deVilleneuve Attorneys P.C. Photo courtesy of Schlesinger & deVilleneuve

Contacted by the Times on Thursday, deVilleneuve said his firm felt confident in their own investigation.

“Regardless of what the police and the DA decide to do, we’re still confident that, in a civil case, we have a good chance of winning,” he said. “It would just not be criminal in nature.”

DeVilleneuve said his firm has investigated 47 claims and are ready to file 14 cases.

Schofield and her attorney, Shawn Kollie of Medford, did not return calls from the Times seeking comment on Thursday.

According to Oregon Board of Nursing records, Schofield voluntarily agreed to refrain from practicing nursing on Nov. 22, 2023, “pending the completion of an investigation.” As of Thursday, the board website reflected that Schofield’s license, originally issued June 22, 2015, expired April 8, on Schofield’s birthday.

Shawn Porter, a Phoenix, Arizona, resident whose 71-year-old mother, Klamath Falls native Roberta Porter, died after contracting an infection alleged to have been cause by a former nurse, was disappointed at “the sterile nature” of the DA’s statement Thursday.

“They talk about infections but not deaths,” he noted.

Porter said he was contacted in December by Medford police, exactly one year after his mother died in December 2022. He said police and the DA’s office should have named the suspect by now.

“It’s pretty disappointing. I don’t know if they’re just playing the legal game or what. I am grateful the police department took their time on this. I’m sure they had a lot of information to go through.

“But then with the DA, it feels like a big announcement of almost nothing.”

He added: “The bottom line is, she caused harm. And nurses don’t do that. She wasn’t being a nurse.”

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 458-488-2029 or bpollock@rv-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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