Headline reads "Nurse to be Criminally Charged with 3rd Degree Manslaughter." This byline characterizes the extreme enforcement environment in which all medical practitioners are currently practicing.
This nurse only has herself to blame for the criminal charges. It seems during the employment death investigation the nurse made verbal admissions. As a result, the nursing home facility became aware the nurse did not perform certain neurological tests, falsified the medical chart, and did not tell other medical professionals of her neglect. In a mere thirty second conversation, without any attorney consultation, the nurse gave a full statement and admission of her neglect and improper file charting.
The admission was to not performing a neurological test. The admission was not for failing to dispense medication. The nurse's admission, whether it be for not giving aspirin, stool softener, a schedule prescription medication or performing a test could result in employment termination. Failure to do one's job coupled with false charting creates a basis for disciplinary action - even possibly an automatic suspension because a charting violation falls under a Drug Act violation. (See my blogs on Drug Act Violations) The grossly unfortunate consequence in this case - a patient suffering from complex medical care - the patient's demise is horrible. The nurse's employment related admission of failure to provide care, resulting in death, will almost always generate a criminal prosecution even though failure of a nurse to perform a basic neurological test may not be the ultimate cause of death.
Death is an extreme consequences in a charting error or cognitive test nurse neglect case. It reveals the complex level of medical care is expected at nursing home/senior citizen housing. Longer life expectancy coupled with long-term management of chronic disease is creating complex medical care needs of nursing home patients. Nurses possess compassion, care, and significant training. However, they do not possess the extensive medical-based knowledge of patients' gross medical conditions such that they can appreciate the complexity an inadvertent medical dispensing mistake may create.
Each patient in skilled nursing home care settings require such attention and medication management . This places nurses in skilled nursing care settings with a high census and short staffing levels in a precarious position every day. While this case may present clear criminal conduct, it is reasonable cases like this will increase as the population ages and the demands on out nursing home based nurses rises.
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