Public Safety

Former Cedar Rapids nurse will plead to injecting herself with patients' narcotics

(File photo) Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday,
(File photo) 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 will plead guilty next week in federal court to taking pain medications from patients’ intravenous lines and injecting herself with the narcotics.

Kelly K. Postel, 33, of Monticello, was indicted in December in U.S. District Court on two counts of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2018, and again on Oct. 10, 2018, and one count of attempting to acquire and acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge on Dec. 10, 2018.

According to the indictment, Postel, a registered nurse at a Cedar Rapids hospital, in incidents from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018, 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 left over drugs. 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 a hospital, which isn’t identified, 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.

She also was observed by co-workers that day to have “glassy” eyes, slow and slurred speech, slowed movements and disorganized behavior” while at work, according to the board’s statement of charges document.

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.

According to the indictment, if Postel is convicted, she must forfeit her nursing license.

Postel faces up to four years on each charge.    

She is set to plead guilty Feb. 4 in U.S. District Court.     

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