Board pulls licenses of 5 nurses

2010-08-11T23:44:00Z 2010-08-12T07:10:22Z Board pulls licenses of 5 nursesDIANE COCHRAN Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 11, 2010 11:44 pm  • 

Five Montana nurses lost their licenses last month, including three who were suspected of abusing prescription drugs.

The Montana Board of Nursing revoked the large number of licenses at its July meeting. From October 2004 to March 2010, the nursing board revoked 12 licenses.

Almost 15,000 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses work in Montana.

Three of the nurses who lost their licenses last month got into trouble for using narcotics. They were:

• Licensed practical nurse Jennifer Asay, 29, who was accused of stealing narcotics from Billings Clinic.

A nurse supervisor reported Asay to the state nursing board in July 2009 after a secure narcotics container was tampered with on two occasions. Asay was the only person with access to the container, according to board records.

The nursing board placed her on probation in December and ordered her to enroll in a substance abuse program for nurses. Asay failed to enroll, which led to the revocation of her license.

• Theresa Stone, 35, a licensed practical nurse from St. Marie, who went to work intoxicated multiple times. Stone’s license was placed on probation in July 2009 after she tested positive for narcotics while on shift at the Wolf Point Hospital.

Four months later, Stone arrived at work unable to stand or speak. She was suspended from her job and a new report was made to the nursing board. That report led to her license being revoked.

•Registered nurse Stacie Rongyocsik, 33, who repeatedly showed signs of drug-seeking behavior. Rongyocsik, of Polson, was voluntarily enrolled in the impaired nurses program in October when she began failing drug tests.

The nursing board placed her on probation but later revoked her license after she failed to comply with the requirements of the program and was caught calling in her own prescription for the sleep aid Ambien.

Although nurses do not have a higher rate of substance abuse than do other professionals, substance abuse is involved in 60 percent of disciplinary cases handled by the state Board of Nursing.  About half of those cases concern nurses accused of stealing narcotics from their employers.

Two other nurses lost their licenses last month:

• Tracy Daly, a licensed practical nurse from Butte, who was disciplined for misconduct. Daly, 31, was first reported to the state nursing board in July 2004 for mistreating a patient at Benefis Skilled Nursing Center in Great Falls. The abuse is not described in board records.

Daly’s license was placed on probation, but she failed to file required progress reports with the board. Then, in August 2008, a new complaint was filed against her for directing a co-worker to administer a pill to a patient even though neither she nor the co-worker knew what kind of pill it was.

Daly received a public reprimand, but she still failed to file required progress reports and ultimately lost her license.

• Frances Cox, 50, a Texas resident who had held a Montana nursing license since 2007. Cox, a registered nurse, was denied a nursing license in Louisiana because of her criminal history, and that license denial alerted the Montana board to her convictions. The convictions are not detailed in board records.

Contact Diane Cochran at dcochran@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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