Officials at South Texas Regional Medical Center said the nurse admitted taking drugs from the hospital's dispensary, https://www.obsw4aps.online and may have hid the thefts by refilling vials with saline using the same syringe she used to inject herself.
Allan Smith, chief executive of the hospital in Jourdanton, about 25 miles south of San Antonio, said the nurse was fired Jan. 4, the day she admitted taking the drugs and revealed her HIV status.
Smith said fewer than 200 patients were treated in the intensive care and surgical units while the woman worked there, from June to January. However, he said, the hospital sent letters to all 1,100 patients who received the drug Demerol during that time to ask them to get their blood tested.
"We feel we've done the right thing to ensure the safety of the public," he said Wednesday.
So far, Smith said, there was "no evidence that any patient has received any medication that might have been tainted by this nurse."
The nurse has said she didn't use the same syringe, hospital officials said. But Smith said the hospital fears the nurse refilled single-dose vials of Demoral with saline, using a syringe containing a small amount of her blood. Those vials may have been given to patients.
Demerol, a brand name for the narcotic meperidine, is a potent and widely prescribed painkiller that can be addictive.
Dr. F. Blaine Hollinger, a professor of virology at Baylor College of Medicine, said the odds of developing HIV from a direct needle stick with contaminated blood are minimal, and the risks in this case are even less. He said, though, that blood tests were still warranted
Smith said the hospital detected a problem with missing Demerol around the end of last year, and all nurses in the intensive care unit were given blood tests.
He said no charges have yet been filed against the nurse who was fired, but the case has been referred to law enforcement agencies.
The nurse's name was not released.