MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police say a nurse accused of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and getting into a crash took the prescription painkillers from a patient at Fairview Ridges Hospital.
Jessica Rae Baird, 34, of Shakopee, has been charged with a fifth-degree controlled substance crime, theft of a controlled substance and criminal vehicular operation.
On July 11, 2010, Baird was in a car accident on Highway 13 and Nicollet Avenue South in Burnsville. When police arrived, they tried to get Baird to go to the hospital but say she refused medical attention. Police say she was having difficulty answering questions and making decisions.
The driver, Mark Hyde, said he remembers sitting at the stop light on Nicollet, waiting to turn onto Highway 13, when Baird came around a corner, lost control and slammed into him on the driver’s side. He injured his arm and hurt his back.
“It was a terrifying thing,” Hyde said. “I turned over. I saw her coming, and said, ‘There’s nothing I can do, I’m going to get hit.’”
Officers found prescription medication — a schedule II narcotic hydrocodone — in Baird’s possession that was prescribed to someone else. Police learned Baird was a nurse at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville and had stolen the prescription from her patient.
After contacting the patient, Elizabeth Caron, she said the nurse told her she couldn’t have the prescription because she was being re-admitted.
“So she says, ‘I need to take your Vicodin,’ because she had just given it to me. ‘I need to take it, because you can’t have it in the hospital while you’re staying here. All right. I’m going to lock it up, and you’ll get it back when you’re done,’” said Caron, regarding the conversation last July with Baird while in the hospital.
Caron said she wasn’t sure what happened to her prescription after that.
“I went home after the procedure, and laying there in pain for two days,” Caron explained. “She caused me to be in pain.”
Baird lost her job at Fairview Ridges Hospital. A hospital representative says management has no evidence she stole drugs from any other patients.
Even with her firing, Baird’s license is still active and does not expire for another two years.
Caron doesn’t like that fact.
“She should never be allowed to practice any type of healthcare again at all,” she said. “Your patients are supposed to trust you and trust you’re looking out for their best interest, and she wasn’t doing that for me and hurt somebody else in the process as well.”
Fairview Health Systems released the following statement regarding Baird:
The behavior alleged by authorities in this matter is unacceptable and does not represent the care our patients expect and deserve. When we learned of this incident, we reached out to the affected patient.
We also notified the State Board of Nursing and are providing full cooperation with law enforcement in this matter.
After a thorough internal review, Baird’s employment was terminated. We have no evidence this nurse engaged in similar behavior prior to this alleged incident.
Fairview has strict policies and procedures to prevent theft and misuse of medications; we will continue to look for ways to revise these processes to make them more effective.