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Pennsylvania Patient Allegedly Sold Heroin from ICU Hospital Bed

Apr 22, 2014 04:52 PM EDT

A Pennsylvania patient will be charged with allegedly dealing heroin from her intensive care unit (ICU) hospital bed, Greensburg City police reported.

The 38-year-old women, whose name is currently being withheld, is suspected of selling $1,400 worth of heroin from her room in the Excela Westmoreland Hospital near Pittsburgh.

"She will be charged with possession with intent to deliver, delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and probably a paraphernalia charge as well," Greensburg Police Chief Captain Chad Zucco told ABC News.

Hospital staff grew increasingly suspicious when the patient was receiving an unusually large number of visitors, many of whom were only staying for mere minutes and some who didn't even know her last name. They contacted police right away.

Detectives set up surveillance on the ICU room and eventually were able to get a confidential informant on the inside to buy approximately 30 bags of heroin. A subsequent search uncovered 380 bags of heroin, syringes, and $1,400 in cash, Zucco said, hidden in the patient's purse and drawers. The heroin is worth about $3,800 on the street, authorities said.

"I've not seen anything thing like this before, dealing heroin set up out of a hospital bed," the chief said.

Police also don't know how the alleged drug dealer was able to conduct this kind of illegal activity right under the hospital's nose, let alone do it in such a short amount of time. The patient checked into the hospital on April 14 for an undisclosed reason and the dealings took place from April 14 to April 18, police said.

"It gives a person pause that people can be this bold if you will," Excela health spokeswoman Robin Jennings said.

This case sheds more light on the heroin epidemic that has been sweeping across the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heroin use has increased 80 percent among teenagers and deaths from overdose in young people between 15 and 24 years has increased by 38 percent nationwide.

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