Autopsy on nurse finds drugs
By Jill Taylor, Palm Beach Post Staff
Friday, May 10, 2002
STUART -- A nurse found dead of a drug overdose in a
hospital restroom April 10 had at least three different drugs
in her system, including two injectable drugs normally found
in hospitals, toxicology reports show.
Jessica Viscount, 28, was a recovery room nurse at Martin
Memorial Medical Center and apparently entered the bathroom
with several vials of drugs and locked the door behind her
sometime after her shift ended.
Medical Examiner Roger Mittleman, who received the
preliminary reports this week, said Viscount had extremely
high levels of Prozac, an anti-depressant that had been
prescribed for her to treat depression.
But the other two drugs, tranquilizer Diazepam and pain
reliever Dilaudid, likely came from hospital supplies that
were not prescribed for her, Mittleman said.
A syringe near her body had traces of Diazepam and it's
suspected she injected that drug into the back of her hand
where the autopsy revealed several injection sites. An empty
morphine bottle was found in a trash can near the body, but
Mittleman said the preliminary test results do not show any
morphine in her system.
"We are testing for other drugs that were available to
her," he said. "The toxicology analysis is not complete."
Until all the results are available in three or four weeks,
Mittleman will not decide whether the death was an accidental
or intentional overdose. But he is certain a combination of
drugs caused her death.
Although the fact that the preliminary tests show high
levels of Prozac, a drug in pill form for which she had a
prescription and presumably knew the proper dosage, Mittleman
said he is not leaning toward a deliberate overdose because he
did not find evidence of recently swallowed pills during the
The levels of Diazepam and Dilaudid were relatively
He said he was told she had missed some Prozac doses and
may have taken extra pills to make up for it. The extra Prozac
could have reacted with the other drugs and brought about a
fatal overdose that she might otherwise have survived.
But Mittleman said he can't say for sure until all the
results are in.
"That (the Prozac) is the only thing that makes me wonder a
little bit," he said. "I'm leaning toward calling this an
Part of the reason is information from her family
indicating that Viscount had been struggling with addiction
for some time and had taken to wearing bandages on her hands,
possibly to conceal injection sites, Mittleman said.
Meanwhile, Stuart police are waiting for the final autopsy
report before issuing their findings.
Hospital spokeswoman Pat Austin said Martin Memorial has
reviewed the procedures for issuing and tracking medications
and is satisfied they followed all state, federal and
And a review of records and patient charts did not show any
evidence that drugs were diverted from patients who needed
them, Austin said.
However, it is possible that unused portions of drug vials
that were supposed to disposed of were not properly thrown
There are ways that someone could foil the system if they
were determined enough, Austin said.
"That's where it becomes difficult," she said. "It's a
terrible tragedy, but we may never know exactly what