Shortly before midnight on Feb. 4, Richard Pieri was called to the VA Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to assist with an emergency appendectomy. The problem: The 59-year-old nurse had forgotten he was on call and spent the night drinking four or five beers at a local casino, WNEP reports via court documents. Even so, Pieri drove to the hospital, where a camera showed him walking into a concrete barrier and nearly falling in a parking lot, police allege, per the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader. He then prepared the patient and operating room, documented the surgery, and monitored the patient's vital signs.
A co-worker reported Pieri after noticing he was "definitely not himself," had difficulty using a computer system, and failed to correctly record the time of the operation. A complaint notes the patient was readmitted to the hospital with stomach pains after the surgery, but the VA believes Pieri’s conduct had no effect on the patient. "As soon as we were notified of the event, we made sure there were no unsafe situations for our patients and then we did the further investigations," a hospital rep says. Pieri now faces charges of reckless endangerment, DUI, and public drunkenness. He has been removed from direct patient care. When police asked Pieri why they might want to question him, he responded thusly: "I guess it has something to do with me being drunk on call."