Local News

No charges filed in Duke patient's death

Posted February 4, 2011 2:34 p.m. EST

— Police have ended their investigation into the death of a Duke University Hospital patient without filing charges.

Cheryl Lynn Suber, 30, of Garner, had sickle cell anemia and was admitted to the hospital in October for acute chest syndrome. She died Oct. 5, and an attending physician asked for a police investigation because he was suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the death.

Search warrants state that Suber's boyfriend told a nurse as he was leaving the hospital after a visit that someone should check on Suber. The nurse then found Suber unresponsive.

Hospital personnel trying to resuscitate Suber found a syringe in her bed, according to the search warrants. The syringe was labeled "saline," but the liquid inside was colored and opaque.

Nurses, physicians and a hospital pharmacist said that they didn't recognize the liquid in the syringe and that it was inconsistent with any medications administered on the unit where Suber was being treated, the search warrants state.

An autopsy determined that Suber died of toxic levels of oxycodone and diphenhydramine. Oxycodone is a pain reliever, and diphenhydramine is an antihistamine.

Duke University police turned over the findings of their investigation of the death to the Durham County District attorney, who determined that no crime had been committed, Duke spokesman Keith Lawrence said Friday.