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Bonita dental nurse lost license after using drugs while patient was sedated

A nurse in Southwest Florida is being stripped of her license after being accused of using drugs while her patient was sedated.

Florida Department of Health says a security guard found nurse Kimberlee Sue Nottingham locked in a bathroom with a needle in her arm at Bonita Dental Care last year.

This past incident was not the first time Nottingham was caught injecting drugs on the job. She had a history of at least four other drug-related incidents.

People we spoke to wanted to know why it took passing out after sedating a patient to pull Nottingham’s license.

“I would be furious and very scared,” Jane Breitung said.

One Bonita Dental Care patient was under sedation during the incident. Documents show, after Nottingham sedated the patient, she went to the bathroom. After about a half hour, a security guard broke in and found the nurse passed out with a needle in her arm and ketamine on the floor.

Nottingham was later tested, and codeine and morphine were found in her blood.

“I would’ve been very concerned and wanted to know the background of that nurse before I would even go in to have anything done,” Breitung said.

Nottingham told a doctor she started diverting drugs, stealing fentanyl from work and injecting narcotics at work about 20 years ago.

“Without getting the help that they need, they’re a danger to themselves and they’re a danger to others,” said Abbe Finn, FGCU’s director of the clinical mental health counseling program.

Finn says there is a higher rate of prescription medication abuse among health care professionals.

But the profession works hard to prevent and treat addiction.

“The professions has a specific place that practitioners can go if they do become addicted or have problems with substances or specific treatment,” Finn said. “And they have a better than average rate of recovery.”

The Bonita Dental Care Nurse went through multiple treatment and supervision periods.

“When people are known to be in recovery from addictions, then, they’re monitored at a much higher level with people observing them, signing off on everything they use,” Finn said. “Or they’re not being able to prescribe narcotics, things like that.”

That’s exactly why Finn says people need to be aware of the signs of addiction.

“Yeah, that’s the consequence of this whole story to get to the nurse to break down the door,” Breitung said. “It’s bad when it gets to that point.”

Nottingham lost her license. She cannot practice nursing until an evaluator notifies the state health department she is safe to resume practice.

We called Bonita Dental Care’s patient line. They told us they don’t have any information on previous employees and told us to call back Monday when they are fully staffed.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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