A psychiatric nurse from Durham who lost a $4.2 million malpractice decision in 2016 in connection with her care of a patient who committed suicide was reprimanded Wednesday by the state Board of Examiners for Nursing.
The board also placed the advanced practice registered nurse license of Catherine Florio, who treated the patient in 2009 at Harbor Health Services in Branford, on probation for six months, during which she must complete courses on the management of patients with depression or anxiety or who are considering suicide, according to a consent order Florio agreed to with the board. Florio must also complete a course on managing patients who are withdrawing from benzodiazepines, a class of drugs used to treat anxiety.
In 2016, a New Haven Superior Court jury found Florio 35 percent responsible for the death of Alan Jarecki, a 55-year-old house painter from Madison who was admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital because he was considering suicide, the Connecticut Law Tribune reported. The jury found the hospital 65 percent liable for the death, but the hospital had previously settled the lawsuit with Jarecki’s family, the Law Tribune reported.
The consent order said that Florio failed to meet the standard of care by not taking the patient’s complete medical history, by failing to assess the patient and his risk factors for suicide and failing to re-evaluate the patient in a timely manner. In signing the consent order, Florio chose not to contest the allegations but admitted no wrongdoing.
Lawyers for Jarecki’s estate said that he had been discharged into Florio’s care after leaving the hospital, where providers had begun tapering him off Ativan, a medication he had used for anxiety for 10 years, the Connecticut Law Tribune reported.
The estate’s lawyers said Florio only saw Jarecki once and told him to come back in three months. Nine days later, while completely off the Ativan, Jarecki killed himself in Bauer Park in Madison, the Tribune reported.
Geraldine Marrocco, a board member who is an APRN and an associate professor of nursing at the Yale School of Nursing, said that “90 days was much, much too long to go [without an appointment] for a patient who was so mentally unstable.”
The board also disciplined two other nurses, including placing the registered nurse license of Kathleen Baran of Shelton on probation for four years after finding that she had abused Dilaudid, morphine and Percocet to excess in 2016, the board’s memorandum of decision states.
In just six weeks that year, Baran stole 47 Percocet tablets, 113 vials of Dilaudid and 208 vials of morphine from St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, where she was working, the order said. Baran, who admitted her misconduct and sought treatment for her addiction, is now drug-free, the memo said.
The board also found that Baran falsified controlled substance records, the memo said. While on probation, she must undergo random drug tests.
The board placed the RN and APRN licenses of Dianne Powers of Bloomfield on probation for four years in connection with her prolonged history of alcohol abuse, a consent order she signed said. That abuse affects her ability to practice as a nurse, the order said. Powers, who must undergo random drug and alcohol tests while on probation, chose not to contest the allegations.
The board dropped all charges against Joshua Klies, a licensed practical nurse from Winsted, because he voluntarily surrendered his nursing license.
In June, the board had suspended his license, saying he worked as an LPN in Hartford without prior approval to work as a nurse, and in 2017, he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, state records show.