The Board of Examiners for Nursing has recently disciplined 13 nurses, and in nearly all of the cases, the nurses were abusing drugs or alcohol that affected their ability to practice.
After a hearing this week, the board reinstated the license of Todd Stockheimer, a registered nurse who had been working for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug company in Wallingford before being convicted of drug possession. The board also placed his license on probation for four years.
State records show that Stockheimer had abused opioid painkillers after having back surgery in 2007 and that he received many of his prescriptions from a co-worker, Dr. Robert Hindes. In an unusual twist, Stockheimer sued Hindes for negligence, blaming his drug dependency on the doctor, and won a $3.5 million judgment, the Connecticut Law Tribune reported.
Stockheimer told the board his addictions lead him into “horrible situation,” but he is maintaining his sobriety.
“I can never let that happen again,’’ he said.
This week the board also took the following action:
• Revoked the license of Rachel Brazee, an R.N. from Warren. Records show that while working at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport in 2015, she could not perform procedures, including dialysis, because of hand or body tremors or anxiety. She also abused marijuana, records show.
• Revoked the Connecticut license of Shawna Hartle, an R.N. from Preston, who was disciplined by Texas officials in 2015 for using morphine, marijuana, alcohol and amphetamines, records show.
• Revoked the license of Erin Arndt, an R.N. from Wellington, Colorado, who was disciplined by Colorado officials in 2014 after admitting she stole narcotics for her own use, records show. She also failed to disclose to Connecticut officials that she had been disciplined by Minnesota and Washington state officials, records show.
• Revoked the license of Katherine Mezzi, a licensed practical nurse from Wallingford, after concluding that from 2012 to 2015, she abused alcohol and narcotics, including cocaine, records show.
• Revoked the license of Matthew Hopkins, an R.N. from Andover, because he had violated an earlier probation by failing to go to therapy, records show. In 2015, his license was placed on probation for four years because he abused Suboxone or Dilaudid, records show.
On Wednesday, the board also placed the nursing license of Paul Pitney, an R.N. from Milford, on probation for one year. In 2014, while working at a Fairfield nursing home, Pitney took oxycodone and morphine and failed to administer pain medication as ordered, state records show.
The board also summarily suspended the license of Holly Cocchiola, an L.P.N. from Bethlehem, who tested positive for heroin after a car accident on Feb. 14, state records show. She was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, evading responsibility and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, records show. In 2001, her license was placed on a three-year probation because of substance abuse and because she forged prescriptions for the painkiller Percocet, state records show.
The board withdrew charges of abusing heroin or cocaine against Debra Leonard, an R.N. from New Fairfield, because she voluntarily surrendered her license. Records show she was working at a Hamden nursing home in 2015 when she was accused of taking a controlled substance and failing to accurately record a narcotics count, records show.
The board disciplined five nurses in April, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
The board revoked the license of Gregory Klimaytis, an R.N. from Redding, because records show he violated the terms of a four-year probation imposed in 2013 by failing drug tests three times.
The license of Kathryn Jaworski, an L.P.N. from Manchester, was placed on probation for four years because she tested positive for the painkiller Tramadol in October 2015. The positive test was a violation of an existing four-year probation agreement.
The board also placed the license of R.N. Michelle Murphy of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts on probation for two years. While working as an R.N. at Hartford Hospital in February 2015, she was accused of taking Fentanyl and Dilaudid, two powerful painkillers, for her personal use and falsifying reports. At a hearing, Murphy denied taking the drugs but said she initially admitted doing so because two drug control agents who came to home intimidated her, records show.
A six-month probation was given to R.N. Jasmine Rivera Gonzalez of Beacon Falls. State records show that while working at Bridgeport Hospital, she failed to document the waste of controlled substances in 2014.
State records show that the board placed the license of Danielle Dragon, an L.P.N. from Bristol, on probation for one year. She was accused of crushing a pill that she said was Oxycodone but was tested and found to be Tylenol, records show.