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Former nurse charged with swiping pain pills from Hammond hospital

Former nurse charged with swiping pain pills from Hammond hospital


CROWN POINT — A complaint from a patient who was in pain but didn't receive his medication in October 2018 prompted an internal investigation that led officials at Franciscan Hammond Health to fire a nurse and seek criminal charges, records show.

Diana C. Juarez, 33, of Hammond, was charged this week with felony failure to make, keep or furnish records, furnishing false or fraudulent information and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit.

Franciscan Health began an investigation of Juarez after receiving a complaint from a patient who was in the hospital after being hit by a payloader, Lake Criminal Court records say. 

The man told a nurse he had not received any medication from Juarez, his night shift nurse. Hospital staff discovered Juarez had removed three oxycodone tablets for the man, but charts showed she gave him only one pill, records state.

Hospital staff opened an internal investigation and discovered Juarez removed 30 pills from a dispensary machine but failed to account for them between Sept. 23 and Oct. 22, 2018, records allege. The missing pills included various types of hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The internal investigation also showed Juarez exceeded medication amounts ordered by doctors, improperly documented and administered medications, varied times between pain medication administrations, and often documented that patients were not in pain but gave them medications anyway.

Investigators asked Juarez to submit to a drug test, and she alleged she "already knew she would test positive," records state. The test showed Juarez had hydrocodone, hydromorphone and cocaine in her system. 

The hospital fired Juarez in November 2018, records say.

An arrest warrant was issued for Juarez, records showed.

Franciscan Health spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz said Friday he was unable to comment on a case that is pending in the court.

"Franciscan Health cooperates with all criminal investigations," he said.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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