In 2006, authorities began investigating a Woodstock, IL care center after it was reported that six patients had died in unusual ways; these deaths were thought to be caused by overdoses of the powerful painkiller morphine. Now, Marty Himebaugh, a former nurse at the nursing home facility, has pleaded guilty to felony criminal neglect.
Himebaugh, described by another worker as the “Angel of Death,” faces up to three years in prison. The former nurse admitted recently that she had given one resident a drug that had not been prescribed to him.
When authorities first began investigating in 2006, the bodies of three former patients were eventually exhumed; a pathologist who examined the bodies came to the conclusion that one had died due to an overdose of morphine. Himebaugh’s nursing license was suspended in 2009 by state regulators following investigations of the suspicious patient deaths. Himebaugh worked at the Woodstock Residence nursing home. Because she pleaded guilty, prosecutors dropped five additional felony counts against the former nurse.
Penny Whitlock, Himebaugh’s former supervisor at the facility, was acquitted of charges that she allowed Himebaugh to administer excess amounts of morphine to patients earlier this year. While prosecutors said that the “Angel of Death” moniker had been given to Himebaugh by Whitlock, she denied ever using that phrase.
Himebaugh’s attorney said that Himebaugh admitted to administering Ativan, and anti-anxiety medication, to a male patient who was agitated even though the patient had not been prescribed the drug. The patient suffered a head injury several hours later following a fall; the attorney contended that Himebaugh gave the patient the Ativan to help him, and that the fall could not clearly be linked to the medication.
Himebaugh is to be sentenced in December; her attorney plans to ask that she be placed on probation at that time, although she may face up to three years in prison.
Overmedicating patients is a growing problem in nursing homes today. Some residents who suffer from dementia and other mental disorders are given medications that are not prescribed to them in order to “calm them down,” so that disruption or agitation can be avoided. This is one form of abuse that takes place in nursing homes today.
Brown Chiari is a team of New York nursing home abuse lawyers who work aggressively to protect the rights of patients in nursing homes and their families. Call us today for a free evaluation of your claim.