Fourth Samaritan Medical Center nurse arrested, medical center making changes

Carson Fanning

A fourth nurse at the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown has been arrested. A spokesperson for the medical center says they are now working to make changes.

State Police say 32-year-old Carson F. Fanning, of Richland, allegedly had several controlled substance withdrawal, administration, and wasting discrepancies between December of 2012 and April of 2013.

Fanning is a nurse in the Emergency Department of the Samaritan Medical Center. Fanning was arrested on Thursday. He was issued an appearance ticket returnable in the City of Watertown and released. The Samaritan Medical Center tells us he was immediately suspended.

Three other nurses from the Samaritan Medical Center were arrested this week. Patricia A. Shea, a traveling nurse, is accused of illegally dispensing hydrocodone and oxycodone. Heather Graham, a travel nurse, is accused of dispensing Dilaudid without a physician order. Dawn Harrison, a travel nurse in the ER, is accused of dispensing Dilaudid, Norco and Tylenol with Codeine without a physician's order. The Samaritan Medical Center tells us they were immediately fired.

Krista Kittle, spokesperson for the Samaritan Medical Center, spoke with us by phone. She says that all four cases were the result of a pro-active audit that they conduct continually on the drug dispensing system.

Kittle says that any nurse who deviates from the norm is immediately investigated and, at least once a month, they conduct an audit. Kittle credits the auditing system for picking up on the violations.

She says that once they looked into this case, they reported it to the Bureau of Narcotics and State Police.

The four nurses in this case were working at the hospital on a temporary basis filling vacancies. They have been more vacancies recently following an expansion of the emergency room over the past four months.

Kittle says the same background check is completed on travel nurses and full-time nurses. They must complete a background check, reference check, and drug screening.

The three traveling nurses were immediately fired. The fourth nurse, Fanning, who was a full-time employee, was immediately suspended.

Kittle says the hospital is making changes following this case. She says the hospital is on a heightened sense of alert. They plan to conduct audits more frequently and make changes to their hiring system.