A former United Hospital District nurse charged with allegedly stealing morphine made her first court appearance Monday in Blue Earth.
Theresa Lynn Polzin, 29, of Blue Earth faces five counts of theft of a controlled substance while employed at UHD as a registered nurse.
Polzin, appearing with her attorney Dan Birkholz, was informed by Faribault County District Judge Douglas Richards of her legal rights and asked if she understood the charges.
Birkholz told the judge his client will waive her right to an omnibus hearing within 28 days, and he is requesting a one-hour contested hearing.
He says the only document he has seen thus far in the case is the complaint filed in court.
“Based on it (the complaint), I don’t believe there is probable cause for the charges they’ve brought against her,” says Birkholz.
County Attorney Brian Roverud told Richards he didn’t oppose Polzin being released on her own personal recognizance.
The judge outlined various conditions Polzin must follow, which include not consuming alcohol, possessing a controlled substance and informing court officials of any changes in address.
Birkholz says his client is currently employed out of state as a registered nurse.
According to a court complaint, personnel documentation shows that from Jan. 1 through April 1 Polzin checked out more morphine from a Pyxis machine than other nurses.
The complaint states the nurse checked out 86 milligrams of morphine from the Pyxis dispensing unit, and 54 milligrams were unaccounted for.In addition, the average dispensing of morphine, says the complaint, for all nurses at the hospital during that same time period was 22.5 milligrams.
Morphine checked out by Polzin on Feb. 15, March 23, March 24, April 6 and April 17 was not under any authorized doctor’s orders, was not used on a patient and was not properly documented in any way, according to court papers.
Hospital personnel told authorities the procedure for disposal of waste morphine is to have another nurse witness and document the disposal and note the information in the Pyxis unit.
When interviewed by authorities Polzin explained that during ambulance transfers she would take along a 10-milligram syringe of morphine for the patient.
Any remaining morphine, says Polzin, was disposed in the “sharps” container on the ambulance without documenting the waste correctly.
Polzin admitted to officials she is “very bad” at documenting waste and her discrepancies were a result of not following procedures.
She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine on each charge.