Nurse accused of manslaughter in patient's death
By JOSHUA MOLINA
SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
A nurse at Cottage Hospital was arrested Wednesday night in connection with a botched medical procedure that resulted in the death of an 81-year-old Ventura man.
Kevin Alan Rowland, 38, was booked on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the death of Kenneth Mattern, authorities said. At the time of his arrest, the nurse was in custody at County Jail on suspicion of grand theft of prescription drugs from the hospital.
Mr. Mattern died on Christmas Eve, a day after his car was hit by a car driven by an 89-year-old man on Highway 101 near Haskell's Beach in Goleta. Mr. Mattern, who was heading to Pleasanton to spend Christmas with friends, was taken to Cottage Hospital, where he was treated for a broken left hand and chest trauma, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol.
During treatment, Mr. Mattern was supposed to be given a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement by mouth, said Lt. Nick Katzenstein, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Instead, while under Mr. Rowland's care, the medication was administered through a feeding tube inserted into one of Mr. Mattern's veins, according to the police department.
An autopsy later revealed that Mr. Mattern died from an embolism in his lungs, not as a result of injuries suffered in the collision, said Lt. Katzenstein.
Officials at Cottage determined that the death may have been caused by an error and alerted the coroner's office, who turned the investigation over to the Police Department.
Friend and neighbor Barbara Wise described Mr. Mattern as a nice, healthy man who swam 45 minutes a day at the mobile home park where he lived.
She remembered how he would sometimes call at 6 p.m. and tell her not to eat dessert because he was going to bring something over. Or, sometimes in the summer, he would bring watermelon over to share with her.
"He was a very giving, intelligent man," she said.
As part of the police investigation into the death, authorities learned that Cottage Hospital was already conducting an internal investigation of Mr. Rowland stemming from the disappearance of some narcotics that were under his control, Lt. Katzenstein said.
Authorities arrested the nurse at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport on Dec. 28 as he was preparing to board a flight to his permanent home in Platte City, Mo., Lt. Katzenstein said.
"We believe that he was using (the drugs) for his personal use," Lt. Katzenstein said. "We don't have evidence that he was under the influence of the drugs at the time he administered these drugs to the victim."
Lt. Katzenstein said that Mr. Rowland may have been fired from Cottage Hospital prior to his arrest at the airport.
Hospital officials did not comment on the suspect's work status, but Ron Werft, Cottage Health System president and CEO, said Wednesday the hospital is cooperating with the police in the investigation.
"We at Cottage are all terribly devastated by this incident," he said. "We have and we continue to express our deepest sorrow to the family and loved ones of Mr. Mattern."
Mr. Rowland was employed by Fastaff, a traveling nurse agency in Denver and worked at Cottage since October. Traveling nurse agencies contract with hospitals to provide nursing staff on a temporary basis. Traveling nurses typically work for a few months at one hospital and then move on to another assignment.
Cottage, like many hospitals in California, relies on traveling nurses to help cope with the statewide nursing shortage.
Jan 3, '02
Besides the alleged drug use.
I wonder if this was packaged in a regular syringe and was added to an IV bag. Some hospital are pharmacies are still using this packaging system for liquid oral medications. I wonder if it was in the norm to make up your own IV bags here as well. Surely this guy checked the route in the order. We make up "yellow banana' bags all day long in the ER. The IV MVI sometimes comes out of a multi dose vial.
This was pretty stupid if the guy gave this IV push through one of those off set liquid syringes. Even more stupid if he drew it up and then gave it.
If he was acually high when he gave it, then he deserves to stand trial.
Please keep us posted as more comes out on this.
Last edit by wildtime88 on Jan 3, '02
Jan 3, '02
Yea, wildtime! Even though I don't like to see nurses get hit with criminal charges for med errors - this guy sounds like a real winner!
All I can say is that Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was busy hiring this guy, at the same time that they were calling the Nursing School to say that they didn't feel "comfortable" having me in the hospital because I was a little too outspoken about important nursing issues. Atleast I wasn't busy taking drugs and killing people!!
Last edit by fiestynurse on Jan 4, '02
Jan 3, '02
Do not even go there with you insinuations.
This is an individual incident. I bet if I search hard enough I could find a past story or incident that envolved a union nurse. Would that mean that all union nurses were bad or that someone did not screen them properly. NO, it would not.
If one nurse does something like this or even intentionally kills a patient does that make the whole profession bad. No, it does not.
This nurse went through all the checks that any nurse would have to pass to work in the state. He could have just as easily have moved into the state and passed the same requirements.
In fact, he could have come to your union facility and been hired as regular staff.
lets just file your comments and attitude in the same respect as the ones posted here
Last edit by wildtime88 on Jan 3, '02
Jan 4, '02
I have a license in many states. I have yet to recieve a licence without the new state board of nursing verifying my existing licensing status with all the other states. This includes existing or previous complaints against it.
As for travel nursing in general, I have a written verification as to all my previous experience. When it comes to actually hiring someone for a position, that is usually done through corresponding with human resources and simply a question of yes they worked here from such date to such date and a yes or no to a rehire question. And before you even go there, I have never worked a strike.
I am not defending scabs as you call them. I am defending other nurses.
Last edit by wildtime88 on Jan 4, '02