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Nurse Admits To Over-medicating Nursing Home Patients

Screen shot 2011-10-17 at 6.56.50 PM.pngWith a criminal trial set to begin, a former nurse has pleaded guilty to criminal neglect charges as opposed to letting a jury decide her fate. 

The nurse identified as Marty Himebaugh and her supervisor Penny Whitlock faced multiple criminal counts for their roles in a series of suspicious patients deaths at Woodstock Care Center (Illinois). 

Authorities quickly ascended on the nursing home after they received reports of six suspect deaths of patients at the facility from an overdose of the painkiller, morphine. 

Though there was insufficient evidence to establish the patients died from morphine intoxication (overdose), the investigation did reveal that Himebaugh and her peers consistently administered medications to patients without doctors order and the facility improperly kept patient records.

The sole criminal charge that Ms. Himebaugh admits to, stems from an incident where she administered Ativan (an anti-anxiety drug) to a patient several hours before he suffered a fatal head injury in a fall.

Woodstock Care Center garnered national attention several years ago when the investigating agencies revealed that Ms. Whitlock referred to Himebaugh as the “angel of death” in connection to a peculiar pattern of patients who died after her care. 

As a lawyer who has prosecuted medication error and medication overdose cases before, I am glad that Ms. Himebaugh has stepped up and acknowledged her poor decisions.  Nonetheless, I still find her actions especially disturbing.  As a nurse, Ms. Himbaugh has no authority to medicate her patients with any drugs other than those prescribed by the patients’ physicians. 

With respect to her sentence, The Chicago Sun Times recently reported that Marty Himebaugh a judge will decide her fate in December. 

For more information on nursing homes in Chicago look here. For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.

Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries:

McHenry Nursing Home Hit With $360,000 In Fines

Lawsuit Filed Against Nurse Who Intentionally Gave Too Much Morphine

Morphine Overdose Of Patient Initiates A Lawsuit Against Doctor & Nursing Home

Morphine Intoxication Of Nursing Home Patient Results In Significant Jury Verdict

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