Nurse accused of manslaughter in patient's death - page 2

Nurse accused of manslaughter in patient's death 1/3/02 By JOSHUA MOLINA SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER A nurse at Cottage Hospital was arrested Wednesday night in connection with a... Read More

  1. by   RNPD
    Read what I said again. You may have licenure endorsement in many states-did you ever get it in 3 days in even one of those states? It usually takes weeks to months. But I guarantee that if you chose to work a strike thru US Nursing (and I never implied that you ever did or ever would) then you would find how quickly they are able to push thru those applications. And I guarantee that no one can possibly do a thorough check-educationally, legally, or other credentials-in 2-3 days. Your agency obviously is a good one. But you must admit to the possibility that not all agencuies, or weven nurses are always on the up-and-up.

    Did you know that US Nursing supplied all the nurses for the 6 month Nyack Hospital strike? Did you know that the former CFO of Nyack has been accused in the newspaper by the board of lying to them regarding the cost of the strike as it was ongoing? Could this have been done to prolong the strike, thereby making more money for the agency? Could he then have been rewarded with a VP position at US Nursing when he was finally "asked to leave" Nyack Hospital? That's where he is now-a VP of US Nursing.

    I read the "doggerel"- can't call it a poem-you posted at the other site. I think it was disgusting. Not all union members are good, ethical professional people-just as in any other organization. I see nothing wrong however with attempting to discover if there were dangerous conditions inside the hospital during the strike, as long as it could be verified.

    Soory for thr typos-just too darn tired! Will take this up in the AM
  2. by   wildtime88
    Yes, I have. There are many states that are walk through states. It usually takes about 2 hours for the process to be complete while they verify your lincensure status and everything else.

    I see nothing wrong with uncovering dangerous situations in any facility strike or no stike, but I do have a problem with a witch hunt. This is not unsimilar to a group of nurse trying to discredit a new nurse on a floor that they have taken a personal dislike to. I have seen this before and I am sure you have too.

    I do understand the frustration involved, but things like this go way to far and are not good for nursing in general. This does not build trust in nurses. This just makes every patient worry that much more even after the strike is settled. They know that some of the nurses who work there on a regular basis actually cross the picket lines.

    We have all known nurses that we were not good but it is not focused on one particular group. Many of the nurses who work strikes are regular staff in another part of the country.
    Last edit by wildtime88 on Jan 4, '02
  3. by   RNPD
    If it is possible to be licensed in some states in 2 hours, I stand corrected. I would like to know which states you refer to, however. It amazes me that any bureaucracy can get ANYTHING done in 2 hours-it took me longer to get a DOG license where I live!

    However, even if licensing occurs in 2 hours, you must admit it is a near impossible task to check refernces thoroughly in that time period for even one person. Multiply that by hundreds needing immediate licensure and you KNOW someone can slip through the cracks.

    My only point to the original statement was that there are unethical agencies and nurses out there. The licensing boards shouldn't make it easier for them to find each other. Those agencies and nurses who staff strikes are unethical, in my opinion. You have the right to disagree.

    I agree with you that it's not right to pit nurses against nurses. But when a group of nurses finally takes a stand against unsafe conditions in their hospital, it is unethical for others to come in and undermine their stand. And no one does it for the patients or they would be there slaving along side the rest of us as we try to do more with less. They do it for the money-and have been quoted in our local paper saying exactly that during the Nyack strike. Most are underpaid in their own hospitals and instead of joining together to fight for their own patients, they are supposedly trying to "help" mine. If everyone stayed and took care of their own backyard, the situation of pitting nurse against nurse wouldn't exist in these cases.

    I haven't had time to look for the Revolution article I referred to, but perhaps you can do a search for US Nursing Corp and come up with it yourself. I still intend to do it myself when I find time.
  4. by   -jt
    <stop accusing registries for this and assuming that people who work in travel agencies are bad,>

    I didnt see anybody doing that. I saw one poster accurately stating that in labor dispute situations, Fastaff, US Nursing and their like do not screen the RNs they send to the facility and send a disclaimer to the hospital absolving itself of that. In these labor situations, Boards of Nursing rush through licenses for out-of-state nurses many times within just 3 days - no time for them to adequately screen the applicants either. So who is protecting the pts in these situations from workers who maybe should not be there?

    I didnt see that poster condemning travel or agency nurses who are subject to closer scrutiny in normal situations, but rather she is condemning these particular kinds of agencies & the hospitals for the rushed process they use and incomplete screening of hired replacements during labor disputes. I saw her understanding how an incident like this could happen when workers are not properly screened before being allowed to staff labor disputes and I saw her honestly asking if this was one of those situations.

    That question in no way should be construed as an attack on agency nurses.

    The applicant review process for obtaining an out-of-state license to work in a labor dispute is very different than it is in any other time. And in labor disputes, the hospital, agency, and Board of Nursing should also be held responsible because none of them are adequately screening applicants before allowing them to hold pts lives in their hands.

    There is a mulitude of documentation of these instances and many documented incidents where these nurses were later found by the hospital to have falsified their credentials, skills and experience and were then fired. Also, in one situation I know of, a couple of the "certified pt care tech" scabs were never certified as pt care techs and in fact didnt have pt care tech experience at all. Several reporters wanting to investigate conditions during the labor dispute applied with that scab agency to work it, were hired, sent to the facility & allowed to work. Nobody verified the resumes they submitted or their credentials and nobody found out that they werent what they claimed to be. These writers then wrote a very interesting (scary) story about the whole thing. There are many incidents with nurses not being properly screened in these situations, not having state licenses, not having the skills they say they have, and the hospital will report to the media that it fired them when it found out - after theyd been working there a while. But shouldnt they have already known about these nurses & not hired them in the first place? Somebody should have - but in labor disputes, nobody is checking.

    So the question that poster asked still stands - was this one of those instances? If so, are not the agency, the hospital, and the board of nursing also responsible for that pts death?

    From experience - In 1996, my hospital was facing an RN strike when, in day 7 of the countdown, with 3 days left to go before it started, the state stopped the scabs from being allowed to work because the agency itself didnt even have a state license. The hospital forced us to strike because it "couldnt afford" to make any improvements, yet it had no idea that the company it could afford to give a $700,000 non-refundable retainer to to care for our pts didnt have a license. The hospital didnt even bother to check that the agency itself had a license, so I doubt it checked the credentials of every out-of-state nurse that company was planning to send here.

    With the state blocking the scabs from walking in the door, and the staff nurses walking out in 3 days, and no other nurses available except management, the hospital had the choice to either transfer out all its pts and close or settle the contract before the strike started. Closing down would have lost money so they came crawling back to us with the contract we needed - the same one they were refusing to agree to all along they suddenly could agree to - and we never did have to strike at all. Thats how it works when scabs stay home. But thats a story for another thread.
  5. by   -jt
    <I read the "doggerel"- can't call it a poem-you posted at the other site. I think it was disgusting>

    Although neither I nor any other nurse (union or non-union) wrote that poem, I am the one who originally posted it on this board - in answer to another posters question asking what I had last heard from the nurses striking at St Catherines on Long Island.

    That poem, written by the angry, frustrated, non-nurse husband of one of the striking nurses, and with his own perspective, was the latest I had heard at the time, so thats what I gave the person who asked for the info, along with an explanation.

    W has raked me over the coals for doing that. ; ) LOL!! I suppose the web gods gave only him the right to post anything that others may not like. But now that guy's "poem" is his new crusade and of course its all my fault. ; ) LOL!! Youd think he'd have better things to argue about than some guys perception of his wife's situation.

    But noooo...... he's enjoying telling the world that because I posted the man's poem, I MUST agree with every line of it - his "proof" of what a despicable human being I am. lol! He seems to never tire of making assumptions.

    Anyway, he is just doing his usual misrepresenting of things to fit another excuse to direct his argument, but I find it interesting to see how easily I get under his skin.

    The "poem" wasnt even written by a nurse. Geeezzzzz......
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 4, '02
  6. by   RNPD
    Sorry. jt, I didn't see your original post, only Wildtime's quote, and i took it out of context. I should have known better. Having been thru a strike situation, I can understand the anger & frustration felt toward those who help to prolong the fight for safer patient care, and in some cases, compromise it.

    Again, I'm sorry that I seemed to flame you, and hope you understand.
  7. by   -jt
    <Again, I'm sorry that I seemed to flame you,>

    I didnt take it that way for one second! I think its hilarious that somebodys poor husband putting his anger & own thoughts into rhyme is being used by that poster to start another argument and make yet another hit against certain nurses here - all while he admonishes the rest of us to not pit nurses against other nurses! LOL!

    See that "LOL!!" up there? That means "laughing out loud" in cyber-ese. Its just what Ive been doing with his whole discussion, insinuations, and assumptions regarding my "horrible" act of posting that man's poem here.

    But anyway. back to the topic....... so was this guy who accidentally killed a patient, a fully screened temporary travel nurse who just got himself into trouble with substances & made a mistake, or was he one of those that was pushed through to work a labor dispute without adequate screening that, if it had occurred, might have alerted someone to an existing problem & avoided this whole tragedy? If the later, every authority involved should hang.

    In NY state, thanks to NYSNA nurses, he'd have S.P.A.N. to help him get his life back. Thats a very far cry from pitting nurse against nurse.
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 4, '02
  8. by   wildtime88
    JT, if you think it is hilarious to post something that says that other nurses do not care if the patients they are caring for live or die, then I truly feel sorry for you.

    I would feel the same way it someone else posted a similar thing in reference to union nurses.

    As I asked you before, is your next post going to be some kind of statement that other nurses are intentionally killing patients?

    One more thing, no one's husband posted that here on this board. YOU did.

    If a non-nurse had posted it then that might have been written off as to they just do not comprehend what they are saying. But for a nurse to post something like that, well that is another story entirely.
    Last edit by wildtime88 on Jan 4, '02
  9. by   nightingale
    jt.. could you repost the poem (or put the url).

    I do not want to distract from this discussion.

    Thank you FiestyNurse (wow you are also a JD.. impressive) for the article. This article forces you to think on many fronts which are, sometimes, uncomfortable. I really hate to hear about nurses who are bad for the profession, but it happens. This story sounds like it is about one of theses nurses. It will be "good for the business" to expose all dishonesties and areas that need improvement.

    I too hope you keep us posted.

    Last edit by nightingale on Jan 4, '02
  10. by   fiestynurse
    Two pictures of accused nurse emerge


    Two pictures of Kevin Alan Rowland began to emerge Thursday -- one of a good-hearted nurse who volunteered to help terrorism victims on Sept. 11, the other of a man accused of accidentally killing an elderly patient and stealing powerful painkillers from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

    Police said the patient, 81-year-old Kenneth Mattern, came to the hospital after a car accident and made steady improvement after being treated for a broken wrist and "cardiac bruising."

    Cottage admitted Mr. Mattern, an avid swimmer and resident of the Patrician Mobile Home Park in Ventura, to its Intensive Care Unit at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 23, police reports state.

    "Mr. Mattern's health continued to improve throughout the day and into the following day," police Lt. Nick Katzenstein said.

    "Sometime during the morning hours of Dec. 24, he was transferred out of intensive care and into a room on the 5th floor."

    But at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, Mr. Mattern began to have "cardiac rhythm disturbances," documents state.

    "His condition became such that he was taken back down to the Intensive Care Unit at 6 p.m.," Lt. Katzenstein said.

    An intensive care nurse discovered a tube designed to deliver a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement into a patient's mouth -- in Mr. Mattern's arm. Police say the supplement is clearly labeled for oral use.

    The tube was allegedly inserted by Mr. Rowland.

    "At the time Mr. Mattern was admitted to the hospital, he was assigned to Mr. Rowland," said Lt. Katzenstein. "He was responsible for giving Mr. Mattern everything. Through investigation, detectives eliminated the possibility that anyone else was involved."

    Like other so-called "traveling nurses," a mainstay at California hospitals because of a nationwide shortage of staff nurses, Mr. Rowland moved from one city to the next filling temporary positions.

    His sister described Mr. Rowland as a former firefighter who worked as a nurse for about the past five years

    She said he treated New York City victims of the terrorist attacks.

    "He volunteered," said Yvonne Thibault, who lives in his home state of Missouri. "He was there doing what he could. In school, he excelled. He tutored everybody."

    Police said Thursday that the intravenous application of the supplement into Mr. Mattern's arm was the cause of death.

    "When the (intensive care) nurse saw the intergastric tube, she knew he had the wrong stuff in him," Lt. Katzenstein said. "After removing the intergastric tube, Mr. Mattern began to go into respiratory distress and full cardiac arrest."

    Several doctors and nurses attempted to revive him but he was pronounced dead at 8 p.m., reports indicate. Hospital officials then notified the coroner's office, which reported the death to police, Lt. Katzenstein said. An officer arrived at the hospital shortly after midnight to start an investigation.

    "The hospital was cooperative and told us they currently had an internal investigation going on about the theft of drugs," Lt. Katzenstein said.

    However, hospital officials said Thursday evening that investigation did not start until after the death of Mr. Mattern.

    Police believe Mr. Rowland, 38, may have been fired by Cottage after Mr. Mattern died. Officers arrested him on the drug theft charges at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, where he was waiting for a flight home.

    He was held in County Jail in lieu of $100,000 -- rather than the usual $10,000 for grand theft -- while detectives investigated the death of Mr. Mattern. On Thursday, the bail amount was raised to $130,000. It appeared Mr. Rowland does not have any prior felony convictions. He was booked on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday.

    Police said Cottage officials said the drug thefts involved the powerful narcotic Demerol, and they were still going through their drug inventory to determine how much was missing. So far, police said the tally had reached more than $400 worth.

    "The hospital has these high-tech carts that the nurses push around from bedside to bedside," Lt. Katzenstein said. "They punch in their identification number and the identification number of the patient and then it automatically dispenses the medication the patient is supposed to receive.

    "In some fashion," Lt. Katzenstein said, "he must have defeated whatever security measures are in place.... Looking at the totality of the circumstances, it doesn't appear that he's done this before."

    "We do have evidence that he stole for personal use," Lt. Katzenstein said. "Did the drugs play a role in the death or not? There is no one telling us that he appeared to be under the influence while at work."

    Traveling nurses, or "travelers," account for about 10 percent of the 687 nurses currently employed by the three-hospital Cottage Health System, according to Alicia Kelley, vice president of patient care services who is chief nursing officer for the chain.

    "The hospital has always used travelers," she said Thursday. "It's just a much greater phenomenon in the past few years."

    Ms. Kelly stressed such nurses are as qualified as permanent staff members.
    "We do have absolute confidence," she said. "This incident is about a single individual. I really want the community to know that at the hospital we are very committed to quality patient care. I am very proud of our nursing staff and our whole health care team."

    Despite such confidence, traveling nurses have taken some criticism.

    "We do have concerns," said Chuck Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association, which recently made an unsuccessful bid to unionize Cottage staff members.

    Without commenting directly on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mattern's death, Mr. Idelson said "there is enormous value in having a stable, committed, experienced and regularly scheduled staff.

    "There is no substitute for the experience of a long-term nurse who lives in a community."

    At St. Francis Medical Center, travelers account for about 11 percent of its staff of 108 nurses, according to hospital spokeswoman Debbie Cloud.

    Mr. Rowland was employed through Fastaff, Inc., a traveling nurse agency based in Denver. A lawyer for the company could not be reached Thursday.

    __________________________________________________ __
    O.K. So now I am starting to feel sorry for this guy and I want to come to his defense. It sounds like they are prosecuting him because he is a "traveler." This is the first time that the DA has brought criminal charges against a nurse in this county for a medical error. I would like to point out that this certainly isn't the first time that a nurse has killed a patient at Cottage because of a med error and it certainly isn't the first time a nurse has diverted narcotics for personal use. Those particular nurses received counseling and still work at Cottage! Something doesn't smell right here.
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Jan 4, '02
  11. by   Squirrel
    Thank you P_RN for the Colorado references. I am assuming that the nurses were charged because they changed the route from IM to IV without consulting the doctor. Does this mean that if they had given the medication IM and the child still died they would not have been criminally charged?

    Does anybody know if anymore cases like this out there?

    Thank you in advance!
  12. by   wildtime88

    Thanks for the follow up. Please keep us informed as you find out more. There is one thing I am really unclear of. Just how do you start an IV and then hook up a non IV tube to it? Can you fill us or me in on that since you have seen them?
  13. by   fiestynurse
    Nurse was linked to drug theft in Missouri


    In October 2000, nurse Kevin Alan Rowland was accused by his employer in Missouri of stealing the powerful pain relievers morphine and Demerol.

    Despite an ongoing investigation, he was issued a temporary license to work in California one year later. Now the registered nurse is accused of causing the death of a patient at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he also allegedly stole Demerol.

    Mr. Rowland is suspected of accidentally killing Kenneth Mattern by inserting a tube in his arm to deliver liquid vitamins and minerals that were intended to be administered by mouth. The 81-year-old from Ventura died on Christmas Eve from an embolism in his lung, according to the coroner's office.

    Blood taken from the nurse within 36 hours of Mr. Mattern's death is being tested to determine if Mr. Rowland was under the influence of the addictive medication at the time of the deadly mistake, said Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer.

    In the meantime, the prosecutor has charged the 39-year-old from Missouri with grand theft and involuntary manslaughter.

    The revelation about the Missouri investigation was contained in paperwork filed by the state Attorney General's office during a brief hearing in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Friday. Deputy Attorney General Shawn Cook obtained a court order barring Mr. Rowland from working as a nurse if he is released on bail. As evidence, he cited a letter from Missouri regulators alerting their California counterparts of the allegations.

    But the information apparently never made it to Cottage Hospital officials, who hired Mr. Rowland in October 2001. They said they never would have allowed the nurse to work at their facility.

    "We are dismayed that he apparently had previous allegations that were not made known to us," said hospital spokesman Jerry Horn, who said he learned of the information Friday. "Our major feeling is sorrow and loss to Mr. Mattern's family and friends."

    A spokesperson for the California Board of Registered Nursing explained that Mr. Rowland presented a Missouri license with a clean disciplinary record when he was issued the temporary permit to work in California. Afterward, the board received the letter detailing the theft allegations from the unidentified employer. But Missouri investigators had not reached a conclusion about possible discipline more than a year after the complaint was filed. That left California regulators powerless to revoke the license upon learning the information.

    "That was not enough evidence for us to deny his license," said spokesperson Susan Brank, who noted that the Midwestern state had not completed the investigation. "We would not be able to take any action until the case was proven in Missouri."

    Officials at the Missouri Division of Professional Registration did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment.

    Fastaff, the Colorado company that employed the nurse, referred all questions to company attorney Richard Green, who did not return a phone call Friday. Mr. Rowland worked at Cottage as a traveling nurse, a temporary employee used to alleviate staff shortages.

    After the hearing, Mr. Dozer said he charged the nurse with involuntary manslaughter for what he didn't do: alert his colleagues upon realizing his mistake. The prosecutor argued that Mr. Rowland's failure to help was an act of gross negligence, the level of proof needed to convict someone of manslaughter. If found guilty, the nurse faces a maximum penalty of about five years in prison.

    "By failing to do something to remedy that negligent act, it became a grossly negligent procedure," said Mr. Dozer. "It's that omission to act that caused the charge."

    Authorities were still trying to determine how much Demerol was taken, for how long and if other drugs were taken. They are troubled by what they have found so far. Between Dec. 19 and Dec. 24, Mr. Rowland allegedly stole 43 doses of Demerol at 75 milligrams each.

    The recommended dose for an adult is between 50 to 150 milligrams every 3 to 4 hours. It is administered carefully because of the painkiller's highly addictive nature.
    "That's a lot of Demerol," said Mr. Dozer.

    Mr. Rowland is expected to plead to the charges next week. He remains held at the County Jail in lieu of $130,000 bail. The Public Defender's Office declined to comment on the case.