Nurse accused of giving morphine instead of muscle relaxant indicted
A nurse who authorities said gave a patient morphine instead of a prescribed muscle relaxant in an Island Park nursing home in February 2012 -- and then tried to cover it up -- has been indicted on felony endangerment charges, officials said.
Vicki Price, 46, of Freeport, a licensed practical nurse who worked at the Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Long Beach Road, was arraigned Wednesday on the indictment charging her with second-degree endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an incompetent or physically disabled person, one count of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, willful violation of the public health laws and first-degree falsifying business records.
The charges carry a sentence of up to 4 years in prison, officials said.
"New York's health care professionals take an oath to care for their patients -- and that care is their first duty," state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a news release about the case. "Our most vulnerable patients deserve our care, and my office will pursue justice when our basic tenets of care are not met. There is one set of rules for all caregivers, and those rules must be enforced."
Price, who pleaded not guilty to the charges in Nassau County Court before Judge Anthony Paradiso, was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in court Oct. 16.
Her attorney, Edward Galison of Mineola, said she is a veteran nurse who may have made a mistake. "The problem is that she didn't do any of this on purpose," Galison said. "There's an accident that happened. Doctors and nurses make errors on occasion and I would say she's not guilty of any intentional act."
Law enforcement officials said Price administered the morphine to the 46-year-old patient, who suffers from spina bifida and is in a wheelchair, and then tried to cover up her mistake by falsifying documents. They said Price did not admit to the mistake even after the resident lost consciousness and was admitted to Long Beach Medical Center. The patient left the hospital five days later, after she was given the anti-overdose medication Narcan, officials said.
Officials at the nursing home said the institution, "through its own compliance investigation, discovered the incident, terminated the employee, reported it to the New York State Department of Health, reported it to the New York State Office of the Professions, and cooperated with the attorney general's office and their investigation of the matter," said Pat Formato, an attorney for South Point Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, formerly Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.