INDIANAPOLIS — State authorities are seeking disciplinary sanctions against a 30-year-old registered nurse who, among other reputed transgressions, is accused of releasing a body to a funeral home without the family's consent.
Christopher Surface, Fishers, worked at Community Hospital Anderson from May 2009 until he was fired in March 2015, according to a complaint the Indiana Attorney General's office filed against him with the Indiana State Board of Nursing.
The hospital fired Surface because of his behavior toward another employee outside of work, according to the state's complaint. But it also documents verbal and written warnings Surface received over a period of several months.
In November 2014, Surface allegedly released the body of a deceased patient to a funeral home without the consent of the patient's family, violating hospital procedures.
One month later, he "was issued a written warning for purposely documenting inaccurate information in a patient record regarding the patient's glucose, (or blood sugar) level," the complaint states.
In that incident, Surface used a glucometer while working in the hospital's intensive care unit to check the glucose level of a colleague who was feeling faint.
He allegedly scanned the identification bracelet of a patient to perform the co-worker's check, which created confusion among ICU and laboratory staff. He was placed on 90-day probation for that incident, according to the AG complaint.
After he was fired from Community, Surface was hired by Indiana University Health, and, after that, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
Scott L. Barnhart, an Indianapolis lawyer listed in court documents as Surface's representative, declined Wednesday to comment on the attorney general's allegations.
The complaint filed June 4 cites 10 specific administrative violations against Surface, including continuing to practice even though he had become unfit because of "addiction to, abuse of, or severe dependency upon alcohol and/or other drugs that endanger the public."
In addition, Surface allegedly admitted to diverting controlled substances from IU Health and St. Vincent, testing positive for amphetamines, opiates and fentanyl when required to provide a drug screen during a diversion investigation at IU Health, and appearing under the influence during a work shift at St. Vincent.
Last November, Surface was charged in Marion County Superior Court with Level 6 felony obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, and Level 6 felony possession of a narcotic drug.
On May 16, he pleaded guilty to the first charge, and the second charged was dismissed as part of a plea deal. Surface was sentenced to 365 days in jail. He received credit for having served two days, and 363 days were suspended.
In a second case, filed March 19, Surface was charged with two counts of Level 6 felony obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deceit. He also pleaded guilty to that charge May 16, and received the same 365-day sentence and credit for serving two days in jail. The remainder of the sentence was suspended.
In February, Surface was charged in Hamilton Superior Court 3 with Level 6 felony domestic battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old. That case is still pending, according to the attorney general's office.
No hearing date has yet been set by the State Board of Nursing.
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