Former Registered Nurse Charged with Murdering Nursing Home Resident

A registered nurse was indicted yesterday with a charge of second-degree murder in the death of an Alzheimer's patient at a nursing home, authorities said. The woman, 44, was also charged with six additional counts of felony patient abuse. Following her arrest, the woman complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital. Later that night night she was taken to jail where she was held on $500,000 bond. She is due to appear in court early this morning.

Nine of the approximately 25 patients in the Alzheimer's unit at the nursing home where she was employed tested positive in mid-February for opiates, a class of controlled substances often used for pain management, officials said. Six of them were hospitalized, and one resident died in February.  A medical examiner who reviewed her records determined that she died because of pneumonia-related asphyxiation. The report also lists "morphine toxicity" as a contributing factor to her death. Before her death tests revealed that she had a morphine level of more than 50,000 nanograms per milliliter of urine.

Officials have said that some of the other Alzheimer's patients who tested positive weren't prescribed any pain medication.  A spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday that the state Nursing Home Licensure Section would proceed with its own investigation of any procedural violations now that the criminal investigation is coming to a close.  The facility now monitors the Alzheimer's unit around the clock, and officials have replaced some medication and eliminated some dietary supplements for patients. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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