UPMC Altoona nurse charged after putting patient’s life at risk, police say

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BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A UPMC Altoona nurse is charged with a felony after investigators with the state attorney general’s office say she gave a sedative that put a patient’s life at risk.

Tiffany Wissinger, 36, of Indiana, was arraigned on a felony charge of administration of a controlled substance without a physician’s order along with misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person and failure to keep records, according to the charges filed.

Wissinger used an IV to give the sedative Propofol to a patient who had been moving around during an MRI, according to the court documents.

Wissinger is accused of giving the patient a “bolus: — or single dose –” of the sedative when the MRI was stopped and one witness allegedly overheard her saying, “You did not see this” and “This is how Michael Jackson died,” when she injected a syringe full of the sedative into the patient’s IV line.

She gave the patient two to three doses and wanted to give more when an MRI technician told her to stop, according to the charges. Two witnesses told investigators they were concerned at the time because that sedative isn’t typically given to patients, not on a ventilator.

Wissinger is also charged with not recording the administration of the drug as required by law, but investigators were told by the hospital’s chief physician in the care of neurological ICU patients that by giving the patient doses of the drug through the IV line, Wissinger put the patient’s life at risk.

The doctor told investigators the drug could have caused a respiratory arrest and possible death and giving it in such a way fell outside acceptable medical practice.

“This nurse is no longer employed with UPMC,” a spokesperson for UPMC said.

Wissinger was released on an unsecured $15,000 bail after her arraignment Friday. A preliminary hearing is slated for Sept. 29.

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