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Superior woman accused of posing as nursing student to steal morphine

A 26-year-old registered nurse impersonated a nursing student and stole suspected morphine from patients at a Coon Rapids hospital by siphoning the medication with a syringe from their IV, a hospital official said Thursday.

The woman, who was wearing nurse's scrubs while in Mercy Hospital, was arrested Tuesday as she tried to flee, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell.

The suspicion is that the woman was stealing morphine, said Anoka County Sheriff's Capt. James Stuart. O'Connell said test results on the liquid in the syringes were still pending.

"There is no indication that anyone was harmed" by having their medication stolen, O'Connell said, adding that it's not yet known how many patients were involved.

The woman, not yet charged, was released from jail Thursday morning and on her way home to Superior. Stuart said investigators are "tidying up a few" things before they are ready to pursue charges.

The woman was first licensed in Wisconsin as a registered nurse in June 2004, and her two-year license was renewed in February, said David W. Carlson Jr., spokesman for that state's Department of Regulation and Licensing.

Carlson said the woman has no disciplinary actions against her in Wisconsin.

O'Connell said the woman tried to pass herself off as a nursing student, but Tuesday "was not a day when we had nursing students scheduled."

A suspicious nursing assistant notified her superiors, prompting security to be called, O'Connell said. The woman tried to run, but she was nabbed and handcuffed outside the cafeteria.

The woman was wearing a photo identification badge, O'Connell said, but it was not for the hospital. She said it's common for people to be in the hospital for legitimate purposes wearing ID badges from other entities.

There also is surveillance video of the suspect moving around the hospital, she said.

"We are very worried about how she was able to do this," O'Connell said. "Part of our investigation is to find out if this happened more than once or at other hospitals.

"We are looking at our whole safety procedures to make sure no one can do this. Patient safety has got to be our top priority. We will probably be making some changes."

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