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Nurse at surgery center in Bellingham reportedly injected herself with stolen fentanyl

Here’s how Washington state deals with health care provider complaints

The Washington State Department of Health can impose fines, require counseling or re-training and impose practice limitations or suspension from practice on health care providers.
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The Washington State Department of Health can impose fines, require counseling or re-training and impose practice limitations or suspension from practice on health care providers.

The Washington State Department of Heath announced Wednesday, July 10, that it indefinitely suspended the credential of a Whatcom County nurse who didn’t comply with a substance abuse monitoring contract after she reportedly stole and injected herself with fentanyl from the surgery center where she worked.

Jennifer Michelle Somawang, who was a registered nurse at the Pacific Rim Outpatient Surgery Center from February 2012 through July 2014, had her credential suspended last month after she failed to show up for five drug tests and withdrew from a substance abuse monitoring program, according to a press release.

According to Department of Health records, on July 14, 2014, staff at the Pacific Rim surgery center witnessed Somawang inject herself with a syringe in a bathroom at the facility.

Two weeks later, records state, Somawang admitted in writing that she had taken fentanyl from the facility on several occasions and injected herself.

Somawang signed a substance abuse referral contract with the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission in October 2014, records show, and agreed to enter the Washington Health Professional Services monitoring program. Under the contract, Somawang agreed that failing to abide by the monitoring program could result in discipline and that for five years she would submit to random testing.

But between May 2015 and September 2017, Somawang reportedly failed to show up for five drug screenings, and on Nov. 3, 2017, she withdrew from the monitoring program.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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