Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, November 11, 2005

Criminal charges in patient death

Nurse charged in death of teen giving birth

Associated Press

Published Friday, November 03, 2006

MADISON, Wisconsin — A former nurse was charged Thursday with injecting an epidural into the bloodstream of a woman giving birth.

Julie Thao of Belleville, Wis., faces one felony count of neglect of a patient causing great bodily harm. She could face up to six years in prison and $25,000 in fines if convicted.

According to a criminal complaint, 16-year-old Jasmine Gant came to St. Mary’s Hospital on July 5 to give birth.

Gant had a strep infection. A doctor ordered that she get a dose of penicillin to prevent the infection from spreading to the baby.

Thao told investigators she got a bag containing an epidural from a storage locker to show Gant what it looked like, then placed it on a counter.

An epidural is an anesthetic that typically is injected into the spine.

Another nurse delivered a bag of penicillin, announced to Thao, “Your penicillin is here on the counter!” and then put it on the counter.

But Thao picked up the epidural and injected it into Gant’s bloodstream intravenously, the complaint said. Within five minutes, Gant’s mother began screaming.

Gant died that evening. Her baby was delivered successfully via Caesarean section.

The complaint alleges Thao had no authorization to remove the epidural from the storage locker and didn’t check the bag’s bar code through the hospital’s scanning system to confirm what it was and whether it had been ordered for a patient.

Thao told investigators Gant began crying and went into a “panic,” causing her to pick up the wrong bag and fail to look at the medication. She also told investigators she planned to scan the bag after she had administered the drug.

However, she said that after she administered the epidural, she started to work on rewinding a videotape.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association issued a statement Thursday calling the charges “unprecedented.”

“It makes no sense to add to this tragedy by alleging that this mistake, as upsetting as it was, was more than a human error. And it is cruel to allege that this mistake constituted criminal conduct,” the statement said.