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5 N.Y. nurses charged with cover-up, abuse.

Staff allegedly altered medical records

FIVE NURSES AT A LONG ISLAND NURSING home were recently accused of altering medical records to hide flagrant mistakes, according to a report in the Daily News. One such incident included camouflaging the ill treatment of a 97-year-old woman who died after being hooked up to an enema bag instead of a feeding bag.

In April 1997, nurses at Townhouse Extended Care Center in Uniondale, N.Y. used the enema bag because the facility had run out of feeding bags, according to state authorities. However, enema bags cannot regulate how much food is delivered into the stomach; they have only an open and close valve.

Because the inappropriate bag was used, investigators for the state attorney general's office surmise, the woman received 10 hours' worth of food in one hour. She reportedly vomited throughout the night and died the next day.

When reports about the woman's death were forwarded to the state Health Department, the home's director of nursing instructed assistants to white out key elements of the woman's medical records, it was reported.

"Not since the dark days of New York's nursing home scandal in the mid-1970s has my office seen such a betrayal of patient trust as displayed in this case," Jose Maldonado, director of the attorney general's Medicaid fraud control unit, was quoted as saying.

Authorities say the home's former director of nursing, Audrie Brown, 55, of Bronson, Fla., and assistant director of nursing, Roseann Colon, 50, of Westbury, N.Y., told staff members to reconstruct their nursing notes and statements to show they'd used a feeding bag.

Moreover, Jewel Dwyer, the home's supervisor of nurses, said in a statement that despite having ordered the use of the enema bag, there was no problem with the patient during her shift.

"Dwyer had repeatedly ignored requests by the staff to check on the patient once they realized she was in distress," alleges Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Brown, Colon, and Dwyer pleaded not guilty during their arraignments.

Brown and former nursing supervisor Joye Brewer, 53, of West Hempstead, N.Y., were accused of altering medical records in a separate April 1998 incident involving injuries sustained by an 86-year-old female patient. Brewer also pleaded not guilty. Brewer's attorney, Lloyd Nadel, reportedly said she continues to work full time at another nursing home. "She is a skilled nurse and held in high regard," he said in a report.

A fifth Townhouse worker, nursing supervisor, Barbara Martinez, was charged with falsifying records concerning the transfer in May 1998 of a 68-year-old patient.
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Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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