Nurse sentenced for taking drug from Stillwater hospital

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 24, 2012 - 8:39 PM

Della R. Thalin will get three years' probation and must pay $3,900 for taking 100-plus doses of hydromorphone.

A 45-year-old nurse from western Wisconsin has been sentenced to three years' probation for stealing more than 100 doses of a powerful narcotic from a Stillwater hospital where she once worked.

Della R. Thalin, of New Richmond, Wis., was sentenced Friday in federal court in Minneapolis after pleading guilty to the thefts at Lakeview Health, where she worked for nearly nine years before the thefts were discovered.

Judge Ann Montgomery also ordered Thalin to pay more than $3,900 in restitution to the hospital for the thefts, which occurred in a three-week stretch late last winter.

In a plea agreement Thalin admitted stealing hydromorphone, a derivative of morphine, from secure storage cabinets using her hospital identification and password, and then shooting up the drugs at home. Thalin stole more than 100 syringes on 21 occasions, according to court documents.

Thalin's attorney sought a sentence of two months' probation, noting that his client had been under mounting stress at the time of the thefts at home and work. Her defense also noted that she has kicked her drug habit.

Since 2010, seven nurses and aides have been caught stealing narcotics from Minnesota hospitals and nursing homes to feed their habits or to sell.

The incidents have caused many hospitals to tighten security protocols and prompted a coalition of Minnesota hospitals to take the unusual step of joining with the Drug Enforcement Administration, local police and health regulators to improve their security measures.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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