She stole 175 vials for herself, while oblivious women underwent agonizing procedures with salt water instead of pain killers.
A drug-addicted nurse who left dozens of patients in agony by swapping their fentanyl for saline has been sentenced to just eight days in prison.
Donna Monticone, 49, stole 175 vials of the powerful painkiller from a fertility clinic in the space of four months to feed her own habit, replacing it with useless saltwater.
The mother-of-three had faced up to five years imprisonment for drug tampering; but at Tuesday’s sentencing was handed four weekends instead, as well as three months home confinement, CBS2 reported.
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A number of her victims told the court of the agony they endured while undergoing fertility treatments.
One, a doctor herself, said she was very familiar with the drug, having administered it daily to gunshot or stab victims.
On the day she went to the clinic, she said she knew what was happening in real time; after the first vial she felt nothing, and asked for a second, with the same effect. When she tasted saline in her mouth, she knew what she was about to endure.
“You hurt me. You hurt me on that day,” she told the accused, per the New Haven Register. “It was more pain than I could ever imagine.”
She said that afterwards, when she tried to tell doctors the painkiller had no effect, she was treated like a drug addict, and questioned on her past drug use.
She said Monticone was the “big winner” in the situation, as she already had her children, and got to numb her pain. “You kicked us while we were down,” she said.
A second woman said she had woken up during the surgery, screaming in pain; she was told afterward she had been hallucinating.
“It made me scream. I remember screaming in the middle of the procedure from pain. So I couldn’t … I couldn’t tolerate it,” she said.
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“For her to do this was completely wrong,” she added. “We trusted her. She violated us to another level.”
It wasn’t until months after their horrific experiences were the women’s fears confirmed: a letter from federal investigators revealed that a nurse at the Yale Fertility Center in New Haven had been removing the opioid from the vials with a syringe, and replacing it with saltwater.
Before sentencing, Monticone told the judge her painful divorce and custody battle turned her to drug use; she hit breaking point when her estranged husband insisted on visiting their children the same weekend he was hospitalized with Covid.
“My regret and shame runs deep,” she said. “Every day, I wish I could turn back time. … Every day, I will do whatever I can to make amends.”
Attorney Josh Koskoff, who represents dozens of the victims said: “They feel betrayed, I think, is an appropriate word to convey their feelings.”
He also hit out at the fertility clinic for not catching it.
“How is it that after the first complaint of pain they didn’t do a thorough investigation? How was this allowed to go on for as long as it apparently did?” he said.
“It’s not like fentanyl addiction is a secret. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’d know it’s a major problem.”
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