Nurse Charged with being Drunk While Helping With Surgery

Nurse Charged with being Drunk While Helping With Surgery

Plains Twp – A registered nurse assisted with an emergency surgery while under the influence of alcohol at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, police said.


Richard J. Pieri, 59, of Drums, was charged with recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence of alcohol and other counts.

Police allege he assisted with an emergency surgery on the night of Feb. 4 at the Plains Township hospital after he admitted to drinking between four and five beers at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino earlier that evening. According to police, Pieri said he forgot he was on call.

Police received a report from the nurse executive of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Feb. 11 stating that Pieri smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech when he arrived for surgery on Feb. 4. He then participated in an emergency surgery in the operating room that night and into the next morning, police said.

According to an affidavit, a physician’s assistant who worked with Pieri that night told police he was “definitely not himself,” and struggled to log into the hospital’s computer system. The affidavit states the assistant told police she even asked Pieri if he was “drunk or something.”

The assistant also told police that Pieri had incorrectly filed the start and end times of the operation — one of his main responsibilities — according to the affidavit.

Hospital staff reported Pieri was responsible for preparing the patient, retrieving the patient, preparing materials inside the operating room, and monitoring the patient’s vital signs throughout recovery.

When police interviewed Pieri, he admitted to being “drunk on call,” the affidavit said.

Police said Pieri admitted to entering the casino around 5 p.m. on Feb. 4 and consuming between four and five beers while playing slots. Pieri told police he went home and laid down before he was paged for surgery around 10:30 p.m. Pieri allegedly told police he forgot he was on call and did not want someone else to have to come in for the procedure.

Staff members at Mohegan Sun Pocono confirmed Pieri used his player’s card on Feb. 4, but could not provide receipt data or camera footage due to time elapsing, police said.

The patient’s name was not available, but an affidavit stated the patient had to be readmitted after the surgery for stomach pain.

Authorities issued a summons for Pieri on Monday and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 29 at 8:45 a.m. before Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo.

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