Drunk nurse helped with surgery at VA hospital, police say

Posted at 10:32 AM, Feb 24, 2016

LUZERNE COUNTY, Penn. -- A Pennsylvania nurse is charged with being drunk while assisting on an emergency surgery at the VA Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre, according to WNEP.

Richard Pieri admitted to investigators he was drinking at a casino when he was called into work shortly before midnight on Feb. 4.

Police said surveillance video shows Pieri stumbling in the parking lot before he walked inside the hospital and helped with an emergency appendectomy.

According to court papers, Pieri wasn't acting himself that night, had trouble logging into a basic computer system, and didn't log the time of the operation correctly. A coworker reported him to hospital administration.

"Patient safety is paramount. We want to be sure our patients are safe. As soon as we were notified of the event, we made sure there were no unsafe situations for our patients and then we did the further investigations," said VA Medical Center executive assistant to director William Klaips.

Pieri was responsible for preparing the patient, preparing the material in the operating room, and monitoring the patient's vital signs during surgery, according to WNEP.

According to court papers, Pieri told Veterans Affairs police he had four or five beers while playing slots at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

Pieri had just returned home from the casino when he was called into work. He told police he knew it was wrong to come to work drunk, but forgot he was on call.

Pieri is charged with recklessly endangering another person, DUI, and public drunkenness.

A VA spokesperson said Pieri has been removed from any direct patient care while the criminal case and investigation continue. Hospital officials said they believe the situation had no impact on the patient.