Former day care owner gets five years for toddler's fatal overdose

  1. I was reading an earlier thread about CMA's and whether or not they should be allowed to administer meds. Then I saw this article tonight. Shouldn't there be some sort of medication training for daycare providers???? This story is unbelievable! Before I started nursing school, I had more sense than to give my own child medications that weren't medically necessary!!! I think this woman should get the MAXIMUM sentence...she took the life of someone else's child...that's murder!!!

    http://www.courttv.com/trials/bieber...ncing_ctv.html

    (Court TV)-A former day-care owner received a five-year prison sentence for causing the death of a toddler in 2003 with a fatal dose of allergy medication.

    Sabine Bieber was taken into custody Friday following her sentencing for negligent homicide in the death of 1-year-old Dane Heggem, who died while asleep in a crib at a Tiny Tots day care in Laurel, Mont., on Jan. 31, 2003.

    A Montana jury convicted the 36-year-old mother of three in August for Dane's death, along with charges of child endangerment for giving the drug to two other children.

    She was acquitted of a third count of child endangerment and one count of evidence tampering.

    Judge Gregory Todd sentenced Bieber to 40 years on the three counts, 35 of which were suspended.

    Todd had the discretion to impose the maximum sentence but not require Bieber to actually serve the time, taking into consideration factors such as good behavior and how much of a threat to society she poses.

    A hearing on Nov. 1 will determine whether Bieber can remain free while she pursues an appeal. Since the trial, Todd has rejected defense motions seeking a new trial and asking for the dismissal of the convictions.

    At trial, Yellowstone County prosecutors argued that Bieber kept a tight schedule at Tiny Tots and was secretly feeding Dane and other children in her care liquid diphenhydramine, an antihistamine found in Benadryl, to get them to sleep during the 12:30 to 2:45 p.m. nap time.

    Prosecutors presented a strong circumstantial case built on drug-tainted dirty diapers and bulk purchases of allergy medicine, all of which implicated Bieber's guilt.

    Although Bieber admitted that she sometimes gave the children over-the-counter medications for cold symptoms, she denied she was the source of the medicine that prosecutors said caused Dane's death.

    Taking the stand in her defense, Bieber also claimed she had casual oral agreements with parents, allowing her to administer over-the-counter medications to their children when cold symptoms arose.

    She also testified that drinking the liquid medication was a family practice, not a professional one.

    "I thought it was safe," she said, admitting that she used to take Diphedryl four or more times a week for a stuffy nose. "I used it on myself. So, if it was okay for me, I thought it would be okay for my kids."
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   Mississippi_RN
    I don't think I even need to think about what would happen if my daycare did this. I think it would be my name in an article with the judge deciding what to go with me after I seriously hurt her! OMG, I mean, I have told my daycare provider it is ok to give my child medicine when he needs it, but not just to make him go to sleep. And most of the time, everytime she gives him Tylenol or Motrin for a fever, she calls me just to let me know.
  4. by   SouthernLPN2RN
    This same thing happened some time in the past year and a half near where I live. One of our close friends was the responding deputy. I don't believe she's gone to court yet. The baby was 6 mos old.
  5. by   SouthernLPN2RN
    post showed up twice
  6. by   sbic56
    This has nothing to do with childcare providers understanding medication. This woman may not have known she would kill the child, but she sure knew drugging the children entrusted to her care was very wrong. This was a criminal act, little different than another forms of child abuse and endangerment.
  7. by   DutchgirlRN
    This is so horrible. I remember reading that she had like 20 bottles of generic Benadryl in her bathroom closet. Obviously she had been using and planned to continue using it to make the kids all sleep good at nap time. I never did hear or was it ever revealed how much she gave the child? She must have been giving larger and larger doses as the children were obviously getting immune to it after a period of time.
  8. by   Jessy_RN
    Horrific! :stone
  9. by   BBFRN
    I saw this trial on Court TV. She was convicted, but not sentenced yet. She was also a former CMA and EMT.

    On a side note, they looked up her CVS pharmacy card, and found that she had bought 40 something bottles of Benadryl in the last several months leading up to the incident.
  10. by   student4ever
    Quote from lgflamini
    I saw this trial on Court TV. She was convicted, but not sentenced yet. She was also a former CMA and EMT.

    On a side note, they looked up her CVS pharmacy card, and found that she had bought 40 something bottles of Benadryl in the last several months leading up to the incident.
    This is horrendous! I don't know how the drugstore didn't question the 40 bottles of benadryl she purchased!!! At least here in virginia, ALL cold medicines have been moved behind the pharmacy counter d/t the increasing usage of cold medications for the manufacturing of methamphetamines. Even so, I am appalled that she got 35 of 40 years suspended. THat's horrible.
  11. by   Q.
    This is outrageous! My heart just aches to think if that were one of my babies. I would literally have to be held back from killing her.

    The daycare I use does not administer ANY medications unless I provide it and we have a signed doctor's slip. Even tylenol. I prefer it that way.
  12. by   MarySunshine
    Wow.

    You know, even if someone is giving your child an appropriate medication such as tylenol for a fever, if people have the attitude "If it's safe for me, it's safe for my kid" what safeguard do we have that they won't casually overdose them? Sure adults can drink a few glugs of sudafed or pop an extra strength tylenol and be fine. But a child's medications must be carefully measured for appropriate weight. How many people realize this? Very scary! I wouldn't want anyone giving my children any medications...

    This does beg an interesting question (though perhaps one that needs a separate thread): Is it ever appropriate to give a baby a CORRECT dosage of benadryl to help them sleep (for instance, on a plane ride)? Obviously it is NOT okay on a regular basis, and certainly not something that babysitters should ever do. But I've wondered about that for my future kids one day...when I hear a baby screaming bloody murder on an airplane for hours.
  13. by   Q.
    Quote from MarySunshine
    This does beg an interesting question (though perhaps one that needs a separate thread): Is it ever appropriate to give a baby a CORRECT dosage of benadryl to help them sleep (for instance, on a plane ride)? Obviously it is NOT okay on a regular basis, and certainly not something that babysitters should ever do. But I've wondered about that for my future kids one day...when I hear a baby screaming bloody murder on an airplane for hours.
    My personal opinion is, if I felt my twins couldn't sleep because of some other issue (ie: a stuffy nose, cough, not feeling well) I would administer medication to alleviate those issues which then would help them sleep. And only then it would be tylenol. I've found that tylenol alone is strong enough for most infants to relax them to sleep if needed.

    For a plane ride, I'm not sure why infants cry - not all of them do. I would suspect they are crying because their sinuses/ears hurt from the pressure changes - and again, I would give tylenol, never benadryl. I just find benadryl too potent of a medication to just give like that.

    If an infant just can't sleep, I would do everything to console them - hugging, rocking, shushing, comforting. And I have.
  14. by   hope3456
    I also watched most of this trial on court tv....if I understood correctly she pleaded 'guilty' at first and then withdrew that plea to 'not guilty.' If I was her, I would have pleaded guilty to avoid the trial - it was pretty obvious she didn't have much of a chance and that she was guilty. It would have saved everyone alot of anguish. I really thought she looked like an a$$ on the witness stand and that her lawyer made a pretty poor case for her.

    She totally denied giving the baby benadryl (it was found in his system and the urine of a couple of the other children), but then goes on to describe her own casual use of it....hmmm... and then the way she pretty much recounted her whole life story (describing an abusive relationship, having a stillborn baby, ect) - I found it distasteful. I guess thinking she was going to gain sympathy but obviously the jury didn't buy it at all. I mean, it is all unfortunate but it doesnt erase the fact she took the life of a child entrusted into her care. Her life events had nothing to do with what she did....and then she was being portrayed as such a great mother....what would she do if the same happened to her child?

    The reason i was so interested in this case was I worked in a daycare center at the age of 18-19. it is scary that some of these workers- including her and myself at the time-really don't have any education about child safety, development, ect. I think the bar should be raised about the requirements to operate a daycare.

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