St. Cloud Hospital officials have suspended a nurse suspected of giving 23 patients bacterial infections while stealing their pain medication.

Most of the patients were hospitalized in one unit from last October through early March. Hospital officials aren't sure if more people were infected and are asking any former patients who contracted an infection after they left the hospital to contact them.

The nurse was suspended last week after hospital, state and federal officials noticed a number of similar infections and began looking for a cause. At least two strains of bacteria were found in the blood of the infected patients, causing fevers for some. None of the infections was life-threatening or severe, said Jeanine Nistler, a hospital spokeswoman. The infections were treated with antibiotics before the patients were discharged.

Hospital officials suspect the pain medicine given to the patients was contaminated inadvertently when the nurse took pain medication from intravenous bags for personal use, replacing it with saline solution, Nistler said.