Wisconsin Nurse being charged with criminal neglect - page 2

what happened here is truly tragic -- but given the complex, understaffed and over worked conditions in most hospitals, well -- it, or something like it, could happen to many of us. the nurse's... Read More

  1. by   Kimmi73
    Perhaps I am mistaken but did you all forget that this patient died along with her unborn child? It appears all these posts are for support of the nurse and nothing of the 2 lifes that were lost. To merely call this a "human mistake or an error" is an understatement. If we went around with the mentality "everyone makes mistakes" then I guess our mistakes would be fatal and our patients would die. Although I feel for the nurse and don't believe for a second her intent was of malicious nature, her actions were negligent and she defied what a nurse is taught in nursing school regarding the 5 Rights of Administration. Not to the mention the Bridge System which is meant to reduce errors and secure the right drug is given to the right patient was NEVER followed. If this was a physician that caused death, all hell would break loose. Malpractice etc.... the nurse should be held to the same level. I can't say what the answer is for this "Julie." All I know is she needs to do some MAJOR soul searching as to why she became a nurse in the first place and what this means to provide patient care. If time in jail or her license is revoked then so be it.
  2. by   Jolie
    Quote from Kimmi73
    Perhaps I am mistaken but did you all forget that this patient died along with her unborn child? It appears all these posts are for support of the nurse and nothing of the 2 lifes that were lost. If this was a physician that caused death, all hell would break loose. Malpractice etc.... the nurse should be held to the same level. I can't say what the answer is for this "Julie." All I know is she needs to do some MAJOR soul searching as to why she became a nurse in the first place and what this means to provide patient care. If time in jail or her license is revoked then so be it.
    I don't believe that anyone here has lost sight of the fact that life was lost in this terrible incident. Nor have I read any posts defending the nurse's actions. I also believe that everyone here would wholeheartedly agree that the nurse needs to answer for her actions before the State Board of Nursing (with loss of her license as a likely outcome), AND in a civil trial where the family will likely be awarded financial compensation.


    You state, "If this was a physician that caused death, all hell would break loose. Malpractice etc....the nurse should be held to the same level." That is EXACTLY what has been suggested here, malpractice (civil trial), and BON action. Never have I known an obstetrician to be charged criminally for the death of a mother or baby due to errors in care. Nor should the nurse be criminally charged, unless there is evidence of willful and deliberate misconduct.

    The posters here who have expressed sorrow over this incident and the nurse's role in it are likely experienced professionals who can identify with the less-than-ideal circumstances that lead to such tragedies. We have been in similar situations of poor staffing, unavailable physicians, poorly designed systems, etc. and realize that there but for the grace of God go we. Anyone who is ready to harshly judge this nurse with precious few facts has likely never experienced the realities of bedside care.

    We lock up murderers, rapsits, spouse-abusers, and drunk drivers because it is the only way to protect society from them. It is not necessary to place this woman behind bars in order to protect her community. Revoking her license is more than sufficient.
  3. by   Jolie
    [QUOTE=Kimmi73;1931970]Perhaps I am mistaken but did you all forget that this patient died along with her unborn child? It appears all these posts are for support of the nurse and nothing of the 2 lifes that were lost.

    While the mother died, her infant was successfully delivered by C-section.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    I think this nurse will forever live with this awful mistake.

    However, it was a mistake. It was not intentional. She did not deliberately kill someone. I am sure that she wishes that she could re-do this day.

    Putting her in jail serves no useful purpose. She is not a danger to society.
    I do agree that she should not practice nursing any longer. However, putting her in jail serves no purpose.
  5. by   TrudyRN
    In my reading of the affidavit by the investigator, I do not see any mention of the nurse being overworked or the facility being understaffed. Those might have been the facts but I don't see where it is stated.

    I have mixed feelings on this. We do not know for sure what was in the nurse's mind. Was she intentionally harming the patient? We all certainly, wholeheartedly hope not. But we don't know for sure.

    Was she anticipating the need for the epidural and being organized in obtaining it before it was ordered? Who of us doesn't try to be organized and save steps?

    Did she think, incorrectly, that the epidural had been ordered?

    Where does it say she was teaching anything? I guess I missed that.

    I would like to know if she was on forced overtime or if the unit was short-staffed and how experienced this nurse was? Was she floating, against her will? Had she asked for help and not received it?

    I doubt she will ever want to practice again as a nurse, even if they let her. Unless it is proven that she did this intentionally, I don't think she deserves prison.
  6. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from kimmi73
    perhaps i am mistaken but did you all forget that this patient died along with her unborn child? it appears all these posts are for support of the nurse and nothing of the 2 lifes that were lost. to merely call this a "human mistake or an error" is an understatement. if we went around with the mentality "everyone makes mistakes" then i guess our mistakes would be fatal and our patients would die. although i feel for the nurse and don't believe for a second her intent was of malicious nature, her actions were negligent and she defied what a nurse is taught in nursing school regarding the 5 rights of administration. not to the mention the bridge system which is meant to reduce errors and secure the right drug is given to the right patient was never followed. if this was a physician that caused death, all hell would break loose. malpractice etc.... the nurse should be held to the same level. i can't say what the answer is for this "julie." all i know is she needs to do some major soul searching as to why she became a nurse in the first place and what this means to provide patient care. if time in jail or her license is revoked then so be it.
    [font="comic sans ms"]i don't think any one has lost sight of the fact that a death resulted from the error. however it was an error, not an intentional injury. sometimes when you have too many patients and too little time, steps get missed. as vigilent as you try to be, mistakes get made. it's horrible, but it happens, and it could happen to any one of us.

    as far as your assertion that "all hell would break loose" if it was a physician who made the error, i very much doubt that. historically, physicians have covered up for one another.

    i'm sure this nurse is doing some major soul searching. but i don't think the soul searching should include why she became a nurse in the first place or what it means to give patient care. i'm sure she probably knows far more about giving patient care than anyone who is still a nursing student could possibly know. i think this nurse needs a little compassion and understanding.
  7. by   Kimmi73
    Quote from ruby vee
    i don't think any one has lost sight of the fact that a death resulted from the error. however it was an error, not an intentional injury. sometimes when you have too many patients and too little time, steps get missed. as vigilent as you try to be, mistakes get made. it's horrible, but it happens, and it could happen to any one of us.

    as far as your assertion that "all hell would break loose" if it was a physician who made the error, i very much doubt that. historically, physicians have covered up for one another.

    i'm sure this nurse is doing some major soul searching. but i don't think the soul searching should include why she became a nurse in the first place or what it means to give patient care. i'm sure she probably knows far more about giving patient care than anyone who is still a nursing student could possibly know. i think this nurse needs a little compassion and understanding.


    ruby not sure who the reference to a "nursing student" was directed to? you are wrong if it was towards me.

    imho any nurse who gives an epidural iv without clearly seeing the highlighted marks on the bag, disregarded the bridge system, and not to mention the 5 rights of administration deserves more than a slap on the wrist. it's not up to me to say she deserves jail. i also realize and believe there was no intent to do harm. however this resulted in a death. if regular everyday people who hit an individual with a car get charged for manslaughter why should this nurse be different? her negligence is one thing, perhaps she was overworked/over staffed etc however she had the intent of getting drugs out without using proper protocol. this was intentional and she admits to this. her intentional actions caused a life.
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    This case could set a very dangerous precedent indeed.

    I've tried putting myself in the shoes of the various people involved: the family of the 16-year-old who so tragically lost her life, the nurse who committed the error, even the baby (as an older child or adult asking questions about the mother he/she never knew).

    However, I find myself relating most closely to the nurse, for that could be me---or any one of us---if the justice system becomes involved in medication errors. While there are no statistics bearing this out, I think any nurse who claims to have never made a mistake is either new to the profession or lying; we are, after all, human beings, working in often EXTREMELY stressful environments under all sorts of time constraints. I won't even go into what I went through in my last hospital job; suffice it to say that I'm thankful I didn't make more mistakes than I did (and no, there weren't many, nor did they cause harm to any patient).

    I feel terrible for everyone involved here: the parents who lost their daughter, the child who will never know its mother, the family of the nurse who will now have to do without her income through no fault of their own, the nurse's co-workers and supervisors, even the attorneys who must prosecute her. Regardless of the outcome, nobody wins here. But this nurse's suffering is probably far worse than any punishment the criminal justice system could hand out; after all, she will live with this for the rest of her life. She has lost her job, her license, her livelihood, but more significant, her actions have cost a human life, and there is NO penance that can bring that young mom back.

    How terribly sad, for all concerned.
  9. by   barbyann
    IMHO, Any medication meant to hang in a pump should NOT have a hole for hanging from a pole. I believe there should be a clip inside the pump to attach the bag to. This would make it impossible to "hang" an epidural drug from a pole.

    I'm so sorry for this nurse. Grabbing the wrong bag can happen! Her words "giving compassion priority to clinical tasks" haunts me. I am guilty of this many times over. Too often the room is chaotic; physically, mentally and emotionally. This case makes me pause today and rethink how I prioritize my nursing actions.
  10. by   puggymae
    I see this situation differently than most of the other posters do. I think this falls under criminal negligence - the nurse failed to do the most basic nursing actions associated with administering medications. Although I feel sorry for her and the mess she is now in - being stressed and understaffed are just excuses for not administering medications as we are taught to do. Protocols are in place to keep this from happening. Had she checked the medication 3 times to the MAR as she was taught that action would have caught an error. If she had scanned the medication before administering it rather than deciding to wait until after the error would have been caught. If she would have just looked at the bag that said "for epidural use only" the error would have been caught. This case is very sad in my opinion.
  11. by   donormom
    I agree that all nurses make mistakes. I have made more than I like to think about. Thankfully no one was ever harmed by one of my mistakes.

    I agree with Puggymae. This nurse overlooked basic nursing steps. These steps are usually ingrained during nursing school. I cannont imagine a situation where she would even need to take an epidural bag into the room when one was not ordered. How could she miss the bright stickers?

    I feel bad for the nurse and her family regarding loss of income and the emotional stress that they are experiencing. This is the biggest fear I have. That is why I have a respect for meds and would never knowingly take something like that into a pt.'s room that it had not been ordered for.

    I agree (from the facts as they have been presented to me) that negligence has occurred. The only way to truly evaluate the situation and the necessary punishment is to take it to trial and let a neutral jury make a decision.

    I just pray everyday that I do not make a mistake that could potentially cause anything close to this outcome.

    Karen
  12. by   Medic/Nurse
    The KEY element to a crime, is INTENT.

    Sure, this was a tragic outcome.

    I'll bet my CAREER that this nurse did not intend to harm this PATIENT. However, I'd be willing to bet that this nurse had the following intent:

    To attempt to alleviate the anxiety (near hysteria) of a 16 (Yep, SIXTEEN) YEAR OLD girl that was inpatient to GIVE BIRTH to a child, that had her mother at her bedside. The report notes that this PATIENT had issue with the IV medication and in an (now horribly misguided) attempt to "educate" this patient she brought medication to the bedside in an attempt to educate this girl and her mother. Did this patient have any prenatal care/education? Was this just another 16 year old, bringing another life into a socially failing system?

    Not to get flamed here, but there are some patient populations that allow behaviors to get increasingly OUT OF CONTROL with little restraint from family. (I've seen patients and their increasing numbers of family members get hysterical, faint, verbally abusive and physically difficult to control - patients should have a support system, not a system that adds to the "situation".). What was the role of the PATIENTS mother who was at the bedside of her 16 YEAR OLD daughter about to birth "her" grandchild? Sure, she has no role in the medication administration, but did she contribute to the "hysteria" that apparently took over the room over the patient needing an IV or medication? - Even if she was contributing, I'll bet that this nurse knew there was NO CHANCE in getting her to leave.

    I'm speculating. Not a good idea, but trying to get a feel for the "circumstances" that led to this tragedy.

    Nursing today places nurses in practice without necessary staff/ancillary support, increasing demands and more diverse patient populations.

    If this amounts to "involuntary" under the LAW, we (the nursing profession) are in TROUBLE. The amount of which, I'll bet can't even be predicted.

    Sure, I may sound a bit cold or callous - I'm NOT. I'm just amazed that a fellow nurse without intent is facing a cold and sure to be callous CRIMINAL JUSTICE system. Lets hope for a jury of her PEERS.
    Last edit by Medic/Nurse on Nov 20, '06
  13. by   dream'n
    I am just shocked at some of the other nurses here. What on earth will be gained by putting this nurse in jail? Do you think this will make nurses more careful than they already are? Do you think sending her to prison will make nurses more than human, and unable to make mistakes? Do you think that all nurses that make med. errors should be prosecuted, or only those that are unfortunate enough to make 'big ones.' If the current trend of prosecuting continues, I for one will leave nursing. As if enough nurses aren't already leaving the bedside for ut review, case management, etc.

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