Nurse Indicted for Chemical Restraint Leading to Nursing Home Resident’s Death

In recent blog, our Baltimore, Maryland Nursing Home Attorneys discussed the topic of chemical restraints, in regard to a February case, where Britthaven of Chapel Hill Nursing Home was investigated by local and state authorities after Alzheimer’s patients tested positive for opiates that had not been prescribed to them.

This month, Angela Almore, a 44-year old registered nurse, was indicted in the case, on one count of second-degree murder in relation to the death of Rachel Holliday, a resident of the nursing home who died after being given a heavy dose of morphine. Almore was also charged with six counts of felony resident abuse, related to administering morphine to several patients of the nursing home, causing hospitalization.

The investigation reportedly began after a few patients from the Alzheimer’s wing of the nursing home were hospitalized for odd behavior, which led to the discovery of opiates in their blood. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Investigations Unit, with the Orange County District Attorney, launched a criminal investigation of the nursing home in February to determine if the patients were being over-medicated, abused or neglected, or being subjected to chemical restraint.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office claims that after testing, nine out of over twenty-five Alzheimer’s patients at the nursing home tested positive for opiates in February. Holliday, one of the hospitalized patients with high levels of morphine in her system, died on February 16, 2010.

According to CBS news, the morphine was most likely given to the patients to over-medicate them so they were more manageable. Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall claimed that although Britthaven was investigated in the abuse allegations, Almore’s charges concluded that she acted alone. Almore’s next court date is set for July 13.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that around 15,000 deaths happen in nursing homes every year as a result of administering unnecessary anti-psychotics. In 1987, Congress passed laws to protect patients from unnecessary drugging, making it unlawful for facilities to administer psychotropic drugs to patients without a doctor’s orders, treatment justification, and consent from the patient. As our attorneys reported in a related blog, unnecessary drugging for the convenience of the staff can leave residents with dangerous side effects and cause a high risk for falls, long term injury or even wrongful death.

In Maryland and the Washington D.C. area, Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims of nursing home abuse and negligence. Call our attorneys today at 1-800-654-1949 for a free consultation.

Alzheimer’s Patient Murdered with Morphine at N.C. Nursing Home, Worker Charged Say Investigators, CBS News, June 11, 2010
Nursing Home Worker Charges, The Carrboro Citizen, June 10, 2010
Nurse Indicted in Patient’s Death, Orange County News, June 7, 2010

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

FDA Warns Antipsychotic Drugs May Be Risky For Elderly, The Journal of the American Medical Association, May 25, 2005
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (FDA)

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