The New York State Attorney General has announced the unsealing of a felony indictment against Vicki Price charging her with a range of crimes in connection with the accidental overdose of a patient at the nursing home where Price was a nurse. When an indictment is sealed it is available to the public. Indictements may be sealed for various reasons, for example after the person named in the indictment is arrested by the police or is has been notified of the charges if they were not already known to them. Price, a licensed practical nurse, was employed at Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, at 1 Long Beach Road in Island Park, New York, when a forty six year old resident of the center fell ill from an overdose of morphine. It is alleged that Price administered the patient morphine instead of the prescribed muscle relaxant and then falsified the patient’s medical records to cover up her mistake. Price did not confess to the mix up even when the patient was transferred to Long Beach Medical Center after losing consciousness.
The patient who suffers from spina bifida was treated with Narcan, a drug used to counter the effects of an opiate overdose. The patient spent five days at Long Beach Medical Center before being released. It is unclear if Price’s failure to confess to the mistake led to the patient not being treated promptly or caused the patient to remain in the hospital longer than it would otherwise. Price has been charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an incompetent or physically disabled person, in the second degree, which is a class E felony; one count of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, which is a class A misdemeanor; one count of wilful violation of the public health laws, which is an unclassified misdemeanor; and two counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, which is a class E felony. Medical personnel falsifying business records are particularly dangerous because it can lead to patients being given medically inappropriate treatment or having proper treatment delayed. In a case like this where the wrong medicine is given out proper treatment may be delayed while medical staff figure out what was given if no or a false entry is made into the patient’s medical record.
Price faces a total of between one and one half years and four years in jail if she is convicted of all counts. She is no longer an employee at the Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The case is being prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, an arm of the Attorney General’s Office tasked with combating large scale Medicaid fraud as well as cracking down on abuse in nursing homes and long term care facilities. The Attorney General has put his commitment to protecting the often venerable population of nursing and long term care homes in strong terms stating that “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.”
The Department of Health also offers detailed information on inspection and citations given to facilities. It is an excellent place to get information about a nursing or long term care home. The information can be found online at the Department of Health’s website. The Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where Price worked is now called the South Point Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. It has a higher than average number of complaints. During the reporting period from November 2010 to October 2014 the Department of health received 76 complaints about the facility. This was higher than the average number of complaints received per one hundred beds by other facilities in New York State. The facility has also been fined three times since 2004 in amounts from 2000 to 10000 dollars.