Criminal charges against WI Nurse - page 3

by Dorito 25,170 Views | 48 Comments

What are your thoughts on the criminal charges brought against the nurse who made a med error at St. Mary's hospital ? I feel this is inappropriate action and sends the wrong message to many nurses. Mistakes happen. I feel very... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from lizz
    Question: if it was a member of your family who died because of this, would you still think the RN should only lose their license and not be prosecuted?

    I realize we don't have all of the details here. But I'm still trying to figure out why she would go into a locked cabinet to get the epidural bag. The article says she wanted to show it to the patient.

    Seems weird ... like how would showing a patient the bag make any difference, even if the patient was upset?

    :typing


    I'm not sure how to answer your first question, Lizz, because although I realize that you're asking a hypothetical question, a member of my family actually DID die from a med error. So I can speak from experience.

    It never occurred to our family to pursue criminal charges. It was not what we considered a criminal act.

    It was an accident.

    Just like this death.

    Having lost a young family member to a med error, I can imagine the grief, pain, and anger of the family of the patient. Being a nurse who has made med errors myself, I can also imagine the grief, pain, and anguish of the professionals involved.

    Either way, there are no winners.

    We might want to bear in mind that all our Monday-morning quarterbacking is based on articles written by reporters who most likely have no medical background and have no clue as to what nurses do or how hospitals work.

    IMO, there is nothing to be gained from throwing this nurse--or any nurse--in jail and ruining her career--for life--for a mistake unless it can be proven that the nurse was somehow impaired or had previously proven herself to practice in a substandard manner.

    I see that your feelings are different and I respect that, but nothing you say is going to make me change my position on this issue.

    We are people. We are human. We make mistakes. We became nurses despite the fact that we were terrified of hurting anyone, and crossed our fingers and prayed and did everything we could possibly do to prevent that inevitable mistake.

    But it happened anyway.

    This is the danger in prosecuting nurses. It will happen again, to another nurse, another patient. Mistakes are inevitable.


    Perhaps now you can answer a couple of questions for me:

    Do our prisons have enough room for all the nurses who will accidentally harm a patient?

    How does society gain by prosecuting nurses who err?

    How does the profession survive if all nurses make mistakes, and nurses who err are prosecuted?
  2. 0
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    Perhaps now you can answer a couple of questions for me:

    Do our prisons have enough room for all the nurses who will accidentally harm a patient?

    How does society gain by prosecuting nurses who err?

    How does the profession survive if all nurses make mistakes, and nurses who err are prosecuted?
    As far as prison space, the answer in California, at least would be no ... there's not enough space. But, the state is also under federal court order to build more prisons so, that may be a moot point eventually.

    Does society gain? Depends on the case. In this case I'd probably feel better about not prosecuting this particular nurse if I knew why she got the epidural bag out of the cabinet in the first place. I dunno but, when I'm really busy the last thing I do is go into locked areas and grab meds I don't need. The explanation of wanting to show the patient the bag just seems really weird to me but, still, we don't know the answer to that question.

    Not too long ago, two nurses were prosecuted for negligent homicide in a case where an elderly man was in a great deal of pain, and they didn't feel they could wake up the doctor. So they gave him the pain meds without an order, and it killed him.

    In that case, it probably does some good because they were praciticing medicine without a license. And I hate to say it, but I do see that a lot on the floor. If we never prosecute nurses for things like that then, it could cause a lot of problems.

    We also had a local Angel of Death case where the RN claimed K IV push was a med error, and/or he didn't know that K IV push could kill people. In that case the standards of practice was the key thing that got him convicted. Regardless of whether or not he knew, as an RN he should have known. So, in that case, it probably did society some good. Afterall, look at how long it took for them to catch Charles Cullen.

    As far as mistakes are concerned, I don't think nurses will be prosecuted for all mistakes. As I previously mentioned, many elements have to be proven for prosecution ... not just one. There are many safeguards and defenses available to RN's.

    It's a fine line but the key question here is .... if nurses are never prosecuted for gross negligence that results in a death, is losing their license enough of deterrent to prevent those deaths? Again, it obviously depends on the case but, I'm not sure that it is. In some cases, maybe the consequences should match the crime, so the speak, if you're responsible for that death.

    While the profession may not survive if too many nurses are prosecuted for error (which hasn't been the case ... prosecutions are actually rare). The profession may not also survive if too many med errors are killing people and nurses lose credibility and trust.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Nov 9, '06
  3. 0
    In that case, it probably does some good because they were praciticing medicine without a license. And I hate to say it, but I do see that a lot on the floor.
    "Lots"?

    I don't quite understand how the WI case is an error and that you're OK with a criminal prosecution, but you witnessed deliberate, illegal acts "a lot."

    When you say "a lot," it implies that you were aware, but did not report. That's complicity, and it puts your license at risk too.

    And if the trend is to prosecute rather than discipline, or--Heaven forbid! do a root cause analysis of the entire system involved in a med error--then you've just proven my point.

    We're all, being human, at the mercy of a very capricious justice system.
  4. 0
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    "Lots"?

    I don't quite understand how the WI case is an error and that you're OK with a criminal prosecution, but you witnessed deliberate, illegal acts "a lot."

    When you say "a lot," it implies that you were aware, but did not report. That's complicity, and it puts your license at risk too.
    I did report it but, unfortunately nothing came of it. I guess that's why I'm not too worried about prosecutors going after nurses like you guys are because, it doesn't happen very often ... even when it should. There wasn't any patient death or harm, however, so that's why nothing came of it. Prosecutors are really only interested in extreme cases.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Nov 10, '06
  5. 0
    I still feel that unless I was to deliberately cause a death, the punishment that I would mete out to myself if I caused harm would be enough. Most nurses that I have had the pleasure to know throughout the years are extremely intelligent and compassionate. I would trust them with my life or the lives of my family members.

    However, I could not imagine the guilt and loss of self-esteem that I would feel if I hurt a patient. I doubt it would warrant a jail sentence though.
  6. 1
    Quote from traumaRUs
    If you run stop lights, its no accident and of course you are liable. However his nurse did not INTENTIONALLY cause harm to the patient.
    Ever been too busy while driving and accidentally run a light or stop sign? I have, and I didn't do it on purpose. Thank the goddess, I didn't cause an accident. But, I didn't say, "I'm gonna run this light and kill someone."

    If you can get too busy to care about doing things correctly while you are in charge of someone's welfare, do something that causes their death and get off with little to no punishment, then if you accidently cause a death by running a light you should not even get a ticket for it. After all, you didn't intentionally cause it.

    tvccrn
    elkpark likes this.
  7. 0
    Hi, I believe the DOJ is persuing this case because the BQA and the WRL has had a VERY poor record of substantiating allegations of abuse /neglect.All nurses in Wisconsin especially would be well served to read an expose written by a former BQA (state examiner) supervisor.The book is titled,"Patients, Pain and Politics" by Mary Richards Rollins RN, BSN.Also PLEASE read my post in this forum regarding the WI Healthcare Worker Protection Act and another one with same title in the General Nursing Forum section.I dont agree that we nurses should now be prosecuted like common criminals for an error.IF the BQA would be doing a better job with oversight of healthcare facilities maybe this would never had happened.WAKE UP nurses, we are in a world of s--- and our only way out is to get ourselves PROTECTION, again, PLEASE read my post about the WI Healthcare Worker Protection Act.
  8. 0
    What amazes me, is that they want to send this law abiding citizen to prison for 3 years, and they let drunk divers that take out 3 or 4 people (which to me is a DELIBERATE act), less than a year. Where is the justice in that?

    To me, it doesn't matter how many mistakes she made...that is the risk of healthcare, people die when you make mistakes, but that doesn't mean you deserve to go to prison for it.

    Pull her license, but prison? Not if I was on the jury.
  9. 0
    Quote from BSNtobe2009
    What amazes me, is that they want to send this law abiding citizen to prison for 3 years, and they let drunk divers that take out 3 or 4 people (which to me is a DELIBERATE act), less than a year. Where is the justice in that?
    Its actually 6 years and a $25,000 fine.
  10. 0
    Quote from lizz
    No ... I don't think that's the point here. Seems to me this case is different. As the article points out the nurse:



    This doesn't seem to be a case of similar names or labeling that should be corrected by the hospital and/or manufacturer because it causes confusion.

    And, the nurse acknowledged that she "had no business getting it out" of the storage locker.

    If the label had bright pink warnings on them, the nurse is expected to pay attention to that. This was gross negligence that caused a death.

    :typing
    I agree. After carefully reading the article and seeing the many errors this nurse made, I feel she was grossly negligent, and showed very poor judgment. I hate to say it, but I feel criminal charges are warranted in this case.


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