Hospital Reports Concerns About Nurse’s Care in the Intensive Care Unit to Law Enforcement Authorities, Nursing Board - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on July 16, 2003

Press Release

Hospital Reports Concerns About Nurse's Care in the Intensive Care Unit to Law Enforcement Authorities, Nursing Board

Rockville, MD - Deborah A. Yancer, President of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, has reported to Montgomery County, Md., law enforcement authorities concerns that a nurse in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit may have taken unauthorized, inappropriate and unilateral action regarding the care of a patient or patients in the unit.

"My first priority and foremost concern is for the ICU patients and their family members," said Ms. Yancer. "I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those patients who may have been affected. I am deeply sorry for their loss and for the added burden this news places on them."

The matter is currently under investigation by the Montgomery County Police Department. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital also has reported the concern to the Maryland Board of Nursing, which is also investigating this matter.

On July 9, 2003, a concern was reported to Ms. Yancer that a nurse in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit may have taken unilateral action to hasten the death of a critically ill patient or patients. An immediate internal investigation revealed that this concern was credible, and if true, constituted potentially criminal behavior.

On July 10, 2003, Ms. Yancer immediately contacted the State's Attorney's office to alert them to these suspicions. Since these allegations are criminal in nature, Montgomery County law enforcement authorities have initiated an investigation of this nurse's actions with the hospital's full cooperation and involvement. This investigation is continuing.

The nurse in question has not worked in the hospital from the moment this concern was first raised, and this individual has been suspended with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. The hospital has also reported this concern to the Maryland Board of Nursing, which is investigating the matter, and requested that her license be immediately suspended.

"We are deeply troubled and remain resolved to work closely with all appropriate authorities to find out exactly what may have happened," said Ms. Yancer. "I have been and will continue to be personally involved in every aspect of this investigation, and in ensuring our full and ongoing cooperation with all appropriate agencies."

"In addition, the hospital has undertaken a number of actions to reach out to families who may have been affected by these alleged activities. In addition to face-to-face visits, we will provide each affected family a designated point-of-contact to answer questions and provide support or counseling."

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital also has established a special patient information hotline for any current or former patients for their family members to call with questions or concerns. That number is: 1-800-296-6071.

Ms. Yancer also confirmed that as part of the hospital's ongoing quality improvement program, the hospital will re-double its review of all appropriate clinical and administrative policies, procedures and processes related to the care of patients in the hospital's ICU.

"Where we find room for improvement, we will make changes," said Ms. Yancer.

"On behalf of our medical professionals and staff, I want to reaffirm our commitment to the highest quality medical care, and pledge our continued devotion to meeting the needs of our patients."

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