Public Safety

Former Cedar Rapids nurse convicted of taking narcotics from patients' IVs

She faces up to 8 years

Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016
Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Cedar Rapids nurse accused of taking pain medications from patients’ intravenous lines and injecting herself with the drugs was convicted Tuesday in federal court.

Kelly K. Postel, 33, of Monticello, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018, and one count of attempting to acquire and acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge on Dec. 10, 2018.

During the plea hearing, Postel admitted she intentionally obtained fentanyl and morphine intended for patients.

Postel, a registered nurse at an unidentified Cedar Rapids hospital, obtained an excess amount of fentanyl and morphine from the hospital pharmacy and administered patients’ prescribed amounts and injected herself while at work with the leftover drugs in incidents from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018. She refilled the syringe with saline and simulated discarding the excess amount, the indictment shows.

On Dec. 10, 2018, Postel took 75 milliliters of fentanyl from an intensive care patient by using a syringe to withdraw it from an intravenous line and injected herself while still at work. That same day, Postel attempted to take more fentanyl from the patient’s IV, but the line she accessed contained a sedative, which she injected while on duty.

Postel was an employee at this hospital from Jan. 12, 2016, until Dec. 20, 2018, when she was indicted on the charges, according to Iowa Board of Nursing disciplinary documents. Postel admitted to taking the drugs while at duty. She submitted to a “reasonable suspicion” drug screen by her employer on Dec. 10, 2018, and tested positive for fentanyl and other drugs.

The board, in a final order, indefinitely suspended her license in April of last year pending proof of completed treatment, including after care, and proof of sobriety for 12 months, the document shows. The board also included other requirements she must complete while on a 12-month probation.

As part of the plea agreement, Postel will forfeit her nursing license.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts told Postel she faces up to four years on each charge, up to a $250,000 fine on each and up to three years of supervised release following any prison term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Reinert said Postel also will be required to pay costs of prosecution, as part of the plea agreement.

She remains on pretrial release pending sentencing, which will be set after a presentencing report is completed.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com