A drunk nurse allegedly took part in an emergency surgery, which was performed at the Wilkes-Barre Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
The incident occurred on February 4, shortly before midnight, and the suspect has been identified as Richard Pieri, a Drums resident.
The man had just arrived at his place, after having spent the evening at the Mohegan Sun Casino, located in Pocono Downs, close to the Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Unexpectedly, he was summoned to the hospital in order to provide assistance during an emergency surgical procedure.
As court documents have revealed, Pieri was filmed by the medical center’s surveillance cameras as he staggered and wobbled through the parking lot, almost collapsing on one occasion and appearing severely intoxicated.
Despite being clearly incapacitated due to substance abuse, the drunk nurse still had quite a lot of important tasks to complete, such as getting the appendectomy patient ready for his appendectomy and making sure that all the materials and supplies required during surgery were within reach.
Pieri was also in charge with keeping a close watch on the person whose appendix was being surgically removed, so as to ensure that vital signs didn’t suffer any dramatic changes.
Apparently, the male nurse showed clear signs that he was inebriated, incorrectly filling out the appendectomy’s duration (claiming it had lasted 13 hours instead of 30 minutes), and having difficulty logging into one of the facility’s computers.
Pieri also purportedly reeked of alcohol, slurred his speech, was unusually flustered and irritable, and made other alarming blunders and mistakes throughout.
Eventually, an anonymous whistleblower brought the incident to the attention of officials affiliated with Wilkes-Barre Veteran Affairs Medical Center, and law enforcement was also informed on February 11.
The claims were promptly investigated, in order to determine if doctors performing the emergency appendectomy were indeed aided by a drunk nurse.
Pieri admitted that prior to his participation in the surgery he drank around 4 or 5 beers as he tried his luck at the slot machines from Mohegan Sun Casino. The caregiver also insisted that the only reason he did that was because it had completely slipped his mind that he was actually on duty that night.
Determined to still perform his tasks, despite his night of heavy drinking, Pieri went to Wilkes-Barre Veteran Affairs Medical Center and assisted surgeons during the appendectomy, despite being far from sober.
Following his actions, Pieri, who has been working as a registered nurse ever since 1979, has been accused of driving under the influence, public intoxication and recklessly endangering another individual.
Given that his behavior could have caused someone to be critically injured or even killed during surgery, Pieri has also been banned from providing any direct care to patients, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place on March 29.
Recently, Bill Klaips, a public affairs officer at Wilkes-Barre Veteran Affairs Medical Center, has declared that the presence of the drunk nurse during the appendectomy had no negative effect on the emergency procedure.
Klaips did admit however that the patient was brought back to hospital shortly after being discharged, supposedly because he had experienced stomach cramps.
On the heels of this shocking incident, hospital officials have vowed to revise their safety procedures, so that the patients’ lives are no longer put at risk due to regrettable human errors like the one that has just been brought to light.
Meanwhile, John Cooper, press secretary at Concerned Veterans for America, has declared that the Wilkes-Barre Veteran Affairs Medical Center is notorious for its failure to punish staff when instances of misconduct are reported, and greater accountability should be exercised at least from this point onward.
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