Accused of stealing patients’ drugs, an Iowa nurse continued to find work
An Iowa nurse with a history of substance abuse was hired at a rehabilitation center days after being fired from a nursing home where patients’ 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 accused her of misappropriating medication for patients.
According to the board, Roush’s troubles began in August 2013 when the Iowa Department of Social Services investigated an incident in which she allegedly overdosed on prescription medication and was found unresponsive in her home in the presence of their children. DHS eventually placed Roush’s name on its central abuse registry, and she was diagnosed with an opioid addiction.
From August 2020 to 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 home with 18 oxycodone tablets.
The board alleges that Roush signed off on the patient’s four doses of oxycodone without documenting that the patient received them. A few weeks later, 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 that Roush had administered the last four doses given to the patient and had ordered a new bottle from the pharmacy, although the existing supply was expected to last several days longer.
The nursing home then discovered that Roush had ordered four oxycodone tablets for a patient without a doctor’s clearance, and there was no record of the patient receiving them. Additionally, according to the board, Roush had checked on another resident’s painkillers without documenting the administration of the medications and had ordered unnecessary morphine sulfate for another resident in the house.
After the nursing home suspended Roush for three days, she failed to show up for her next shift and was fired, according to the board.
A few days later, Roush was working as a nurse again, this time for the Des Moines Rehabilitation Center. On the morning of November 28, 2020, Roush was finishing his shift at the center when a colleague allegedly found Roush’s personal bag on a chair inside the facility’s medication room. The co-worker noticed three bubble medication cards, including oxycodone, in the bag along with the center’s “medication count” paperwork showing that the medications were prescribed to clients. The center fired Roush 10 days later, according to the board.
Eleven months later, the Board of Nursing charged Roush with misappropriation of drugs, property, or supplies from patients; failing to properly shield or secure medications; and failing to accurately assess, assess, and document a patient’s condition. This matter was brought before the council for a hearing on January 20 this year, during which Roush submitted letters of support from past and current colleagues attesting to her reliability and skills as a nurse.
Around this time, Roush had recently completed a substance abuse evaluation and reportedly acknowledged his history of substance abuse while indicating that opiates were his main drug of choice. According to the council, she also admitted to using methamphetamine in 2020, but denied any current drug use.
In April, while Roush was still employed as a nurse — state records show she worked for an entity called “Genesis Health in Des Moines” — the board voted to suspend her license indefinitely. She can apply for reinstatement after one year of sobriety and after undergoing a full mental health and substance abuse assessment.
In other cases, the Iowa Board of Nursing recently took action against several other Iowa registered nurses, including:
Anna Egbe from Ottumwa: In April, Egbe agreed to surrender his license. Egbe was accused of falsifying her license application or diplomas and misrepresenting her academic credentials or diplomas. According to the state, Egbe submitted an application for licensure as a licensed practical nurse in January 2018 and obtained a license from the Board of Nursing after providing falsified nursing education credentials. In June 2019, Egbe allegedly submitted an application for license to practice as a registered nurse and obtained this license from the board in February 2020 after providing falsified credentials.
Sherrill’s Kelli Schultz: Schultz recently agreed to a settlement in which the board ordered her to stop treating patients with long-term chronic pain, at least until she completed five hours of consultation with an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Schultz reportedly worked at a clinic – the board did not identify the company – from March 2015 to February 2020, then started working at another clinic under a contract with a recruitment agency. When she moved from one clinic to another, several patients transferred their care from the first clinic to the second in order to remain a Schultz patient, according to the board. A review of patient records at both clinics reportedly showed that Schultz had prescribed painkillers to “several patients” without meeting mandatory standards of practice. The board alleges Schultz kept a patient on a high dose of opioids for years, with few attempts to wean the patient off the drugs.
Waverly’s Donell Dittmer: The board recently agreed to reinstate Dittmer’s nursing license, which she returned in 2019 after the board alleged that, while working at an unspecified hospital in December 2018, Dittmer had a rate of blood alcohol level of 0.235%, almost three times the legal limit for driving a car. . Dittmer was cleared to return to work in January 2019 after agreeing to abstain from alcohol and seek treatment. A few weeks later, it was discovered that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.10% while on duty at the hospital.