- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - As a weeklong strike of nurses nears its end, union members at five Allina hospitals have lodged complaints alleging problems with replacement nurses.

But officials with the hospital say all the allegations that have been investigated so far have turned out to be false.

The Minnesota Nurses Association announced Friday that it had filed a series of allegations with regulatory agencies. Among them, the nurses claim one patient died during a medication error. Other allegations deal with poor disposal of needles.

“Nurses are not working within their usual scopes of practice within the hospitals,” said Rose Roach, executive director for the MNA, which represents 4,800 Allina hospital nurses in contract talks.

Allina spokesman David Kanihan criticized the union for publicizing the complaints during the strike. He told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/28ZrqUU ) that the nurses wanted to make Allina look bad.

The strike started June 19 after Allina and its nurses failed to reach a new three-year contract. The cost of nurses’ health insurance remains a major stumbling block. Striking nurses are expected to return to work Sunday.

Allina hired 1,400 replacement nurses to work during the weeklong strike at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United Hospital in St. Paul, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, and Unity Hospital in Fridley.

The state Health Department has sent investigators to assess care at the five affected hospitals, and found no evidence of practices that presented immediate threats to patients.

The most serious allegation by the union is that a patient died at Abbott related to the administration of norepinephrine, a medication commonly given to manage blood pressure and cardiac risks.

The union hadn’t filed a formal complaint about that alleged incident by Friday afternoon.

Kanihan said “there have been no medication errors that caused deaths anywhere” this week.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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