HARRISBURG—Attorney General Michelle Henry today announced charges against two nurses who neglected their duty to care for a resident who died after sustaining injuries at a Spring Creek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dauphin County.
Deanna Hamilton, 64, of Dauphin, is charged with felony neglect of a care-dependent person and misdemeanor tampering with or fabricating evidence. Margaret Susan Nies, 71, of Hummelstown, is charged with a misdemeanor count of neglect of a care-dependent person. Hamilton and Nies were nurses at the facility in December 2019 when a male resident fell and was seriously injured. He was later hospitalized and died on Jan. 1, 2020.
A Grand Jury investigation revealed that neither nurse followed protocol in how they responded to the man’s condition. Hamilton is also charged with covering up the conduct by omitting and misstating information on the man’s medical chart.
“The defendants were responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the residents under their supervision. They had multiple opportunities to provide this resident with the care he urgently needed, but failed to fulfill their duties as nurses and caregivers,” said AG Henry. “Our office is committed to protecting the safety of seniors and care-dependent Pennsylvanians, and will work tirelessly to hold accountable those who knowingly neglect vulnerable individuals.”
The investigation revealed that on December 25, 2019, Nies, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who was responsible for overseeing the nursing care for all residents on her assigned floor, was called to the man’s room after staff found him on the floor. According to Spring Creek policy, an incident of this nature is considered an unwitnessed fall and required Nies to document the incident and call a Registered Nurse (RN) to assess the resident for injuries and put in place specific monitoring protocols to check for latent injuries. However, Nies disregarded facility policy and directed staff to pick the man off of the floor without assessing him for injury herself, documenting the incident, or calling an RN.
Days later, on December 29, 2019, Hamilton, a Registered Nurse, was working as a RN Supervisor at Spring Creek. She was responsible for the nursing care for all of the residents in her assigned building during her shift. Hamilton was called to the man’s room after staff once again found him on the floor. Although several witnesses reported concerns with the man’s condition, which included a visible injury to his head, Hamilton failed to follow established protocol to ensure the man was properly assessed and monitored for latent injuries. He was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma before he passed away on January 1, 2020.
Both defendants were charged on March 24; Nies was arraigned that same day; Hamilton was arraigned on March 27. Bail was set at $10,000 unsecured for both defendants.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Christopher R. Sherwood. Hamilton and Nies are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The Pennsylvania Medicaid Fraud Control Unit receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $9,781,180 for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2023. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $3,260,392 for FY 2023, is funded by Pennsylvania.
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