Accused of stealing patients’ drugs, Iowa nurse continued to find work

An Iowa nurse with a history of drug addiction was hired at a rehabilitation center days after being fired from a nursing home where patient medications had gone missing, state records show.

Kathlene Roush of Des Moines continued to find work as a nurse even after the Iowa Board of Nursing charged her with the misappropriation of patient medications.

According to the board, Roush’s problems began in August 2013 when the Iowa Department of Human Services investigated an incident in which she allegedly overdosed on prescription medication and was found unresponsive in her home with her children present. DHS ultimately placed Roush’s name on its central abuse registry, and she was diagnosed with opioid dependence.

From August 2020 until October 2020, Roush was employed as a licensed practical nurse at the Mitchell Village Care Center in Mitchellville. Shortly after Roush began working there, a patient was transferred to the home with 18 oxycodone tablets.

The board alleges Roush signed out four doses of the patient’s oxycodone without documenting that the patient received them. A few weeks later, the staff at the home discovered that a bottle of liquid morphine prescribed to a patient appeared to have been refilled with another substance of a different color. A review of medication records revealed Roush had administered the last four dosages given to the patient and that she had ordered a new bottle from the pharmacy although the existing supply was expected to last several more days.

The nursing home then discovered that Roush had ordered four oxycodone tablets for a patient without a doctor’s authorization, and there was no record of the patient having received them. In addition, the board alleges, Roush had checked out another resident’s pain medication without documenting the administration of the drugs and had ordered unneeded morphine sulfate for yet another resident of the home.

After the nursing home Roush for three days, she failed to show up for her next shift and was fired, according to the board.

Within days, Roush was working again as a nurse, this time for the Rehabilitation Center of Des Moines. On the morning of November 28, 2020, Roush was her shift at the center when a co-worker allegedly found Roush’s personal bag on a chair inside the facility’s medication room. The co-worker noticed three bubble-pack medication cards, including oxycodone, in the bag along with the center’s “medication count” documents showing the drugs were prescribed to clients. The center fired Roush 10 days later, the board alleges.

Eleven months later, the Board of Nursing charged Roush with misappropriating patient medications, property or supplies; failing to properly safeguard or secure medications; and failing to assess, evaluate and accurately document the status of a patient. This matter came before the board for a hearing on January 20 of this year, at which Roush submitted letters of support from past and current co-workers attesting to her dependability and competency as a nurse.

At that time, Roush had recently completed a substance abuse evaluation and had allegedly acknowledged her past substance abuse while indicating opiates were her primary drug of choice. According to the board, she also admitted having used methamphetamine in 2020, but denied any current drug use.

In April, with Roush still employed as a nurse – state records say she was working for an entity called “Genesis Health in Des Moines” – the board voted to suspend her license for an indefinite period. She can apply for reinstatement after one year of sobriety and after submitting to a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse evaluation.

In other matters, the Iowa Board of Nursing recently took action against several other Iowa-licensed nurses, including:

Anna Egbe of Ottumwa: In April, Egypt agreed to surrender her license. Egbe was facing charges of having falsified her license application or credentials, and of misrepresenting her academic degrees or credentials. According to the state, Egbe submitted an application for licensure as a licensed practical nurse in January 2018 and was a license by the Board of issued Nursing after she provided falsified nursing education credentials. In June 2019, Egypt allegedly submitted an application for licensure as a registered nurse and was granted that license by the board in February 2020 after she provided falsified educational credentials.

Kelli Schultz of Sherrill: Schultz recently agreed to a settlement in which the board ordered her to stop treating patients for long-term chronic pain, at least until she completes five hours of consultation with an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Schultz allegedly worked at a clinic – the board has not identified the business – from March 2015 through February of 2020, and then began working at another clinic through a contract with a staffing agency. When she transitioned from one clinic to the next, several patients transferred their care from the first clinic to the second in order to remain a patient of Schultz, the board alleges. A review of patients charts at both clinics claims show that Schultz had been prescribing pain medications to “multiple patients” without adhering to the mandatory standards of practice. The board alleges Schultz kept one patient on a high dosage of opioids for years, with few attempts at weaning the patient off the drugs.

Donell Dittmer of Waverly: The board recently agreed to reinstate Dittmer’s nursing license, which she surrendered in 2019 after the alleged board that while working at an unspecified hospital in December 2018. Dittmer had a blood alcohol level of .235 percent – almost three times the legal limit for driving a car . Dittmer was allowed to return to work in January 2019 after agreeing to abstain from alcohol use and seek treatment. A few weeks later, she was found to have a blood alcohol level of .10 percent while on duty at the hospital.

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