KEY POINTS

  • A former nurse in Connecticut stole fentanyl from Yale Fertility Center patients' vials and replaced it with salt water
  • The nurse tampered with vials for over four months last year, causing dozens of women to endure excruciating pain
  • She was sentenced Tuesday to four weekends behind bars and three months home confinement

A drug-addicted former nurse in Connecticut has been sentenced to jail time after admitting to swapping out patients' anesthesia drugs for saline solution.

Donna Monticone, 49, tampered with the drugs that were supposed to be given to patients at the Yale Fertility Center in New Haven over a period of four months last year, causing them to endure horrific pain. She was sentenced Tuesday to eight days behind bars and three months home confinement after pleading guilty in March, WCBS-TV reported.

“The people I represent are sensitive to the idea that this is a single mother,” said attorney Josh Koskoff, who represents dozens of clients at Yale Fertility Center, of Monticone, who is a mother to three kids.

Monticone reportedly began stealing fentanyl in June 2020. The then-nurse used a syringe to withdraw fentanyl from vials and replace it with salt water so she could use the potent opioid painkiller herself.

"The investigation revealed that approximately 75% of the fentanyl given to patients at the Yale REI clinic from June to October 2020 was adulterated with saline," stated a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Connecticut.

At least 175 vials were tampered with at the fertility center and at a second site in nearby Orange, federal prosecutors said in March. The former nurse's crime caused agonizing pain to dozens of women who underwent IVF procedures.

“They feel betrayed, I think, is an appropriate word to convey their feelings,” the lawyer earlier told WCBS-TV of his clients.

Koskoff explained that although his clients are aware that Monticone recently went through challenges that led to her drug addiction, there is no denying the fact that she used her position as a nurse for self-interest -- a decision that has caused many patients to suffer.

“It made me scream. I remember screaming in the middle of the procedure from pain. So I couldn’t … I couldn’t tolerate it,” one patient who underwent an egg harvesting procedure told the news outlet in March.

The lawyer further said his clients felt their "concerns ... were dismissed by the providers" when they initially complained to the fertility center's staff. Koskoff added that Yale should have had safeguards in place to prevent serious incidents such as this from happening.

"It’s not like fentanyl addiction is a secret. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’d know it’s a major problem,” Koskoff said.

During her sentencing, Monticone said, “My regret and shame run deep.”

Monticone began using drugs after she and her husband filed for divorce. She told the judge she reached her breaking point in May last year when her estranged husband insisted on visitation with the children the same weekend he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Yale said in a statement in March that the Fertility Center will be “changing procedures, recordkeeping, and (drug) storage” to prevent occurrences such as drug swapping from happening again.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that US authorities blame for more than 100 deaths a day in the United States Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that US authorities blame for more than 100 deaths a day in the United States Photo: AFP / Don Emmert