By Elaine Porterfield
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle police call it one of the boldest attempted drug thefts they have seen: A woman impersonating a nurse, apparently addicted to painkillers, crept through the hospital rooms of patients and tried to steal medication from their IV machines.
"It's pretty unusual, pretty brazen," Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt said on Wednesday. "It really shows how desperate this woman is and how powerful addiction can be."
Police are looking for the woman who, dressed in a shirt that resembled scrubs and wearing clogs on her feet, entered a man's room at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle on April 13 and began fiddling with his pain medication IV machine.
The patient did not recognize the woman and when he asked what she was doing, she promptly left, police said.
When the man's real nurse came into the room, she noticed his IV line had been cut and pain medication was dripping on the floor. The machine had pry marks, where the intruder apparently had tried to access pain medication, police said.
Shortly afterward, the same woman was spotted on another floor of the hospital peering into patient rooms, Witt said. She told a staff member she was there to check the IV machines.
The woman went into a room and again tinkered with a patient's IV machine, police said. As she left, a relative of the occupant noticed blood dripping on the floor and saw that lines to the patient's IV machine had been cut.
Witt said neither patient suffered any injuries, and the only thing stolen was about 2 feet of tubing from the patient-controlled medication machines and possibly some pain medication from the tubes.
Police said the woman appeared confident both in talking to hospital staff and in walking into patients' rooms. They released images of the woman on Wednesday and asked for the public's help in identifying her.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)