WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A registered nurse has acknowledged drinking four or five beers in the hours before assisting in an emergency operation at a veterans hospital, authorities said Wednesday.
Richard Pieri is charged in Luzerne County with recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence and public drunkenness.
Pieri stumbled into the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center on Feb. 4 before the surgery, during which his responsibilities included preparing the patient and monitoring vital signs, a police affidavit said. He had difficulty logging into a computer and entered incorrect time stamps documenting when the operation began and ended, authorities said.
The police affidavit doesn’t say what procedure the patient underwent but said the patient was readmitted for stomach pains.
Authorities allege that when Pieri, 59, was asked by police why he believed they would want to question him, he replied, “I guess it has something to do with me being drunk on call.”
No attorney is listed for Pieri in court documents. A message left on his phone Wednesday wasn’t immediately returned.
Pieri, who’s from Drums, told investigators that he went to the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino at about 5 p.m. and consumed four or five beers while playing slots, then went home to lie down before he was paged for surgery at about 10:30 p.m., authorities alleged in court documents. He said he had forgotten he was on call until his pager went off, they said.
The executive assistant to the director of the medical center, William Klaips, said patient safety was “paramount” and as soon as officials were notified of the events, “we made sure there were no unsafe situations for our patients, and then we did the further investigations.”