Nurse Gets Probation Following Baby’s Death, Three Other Nurses Disciplined

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing Wednesday placed an East Hartford nurse’s license on probation for two years in connection with the death of a 13-month-old girl she was caring for in Manchester in 2014. A 2016 investigative report found that Shirley A. Powell, a licensed practical nurse, had failed to provide rescue breathing and CPR when the girl’s tracheotomy tube became dislodged. Under a consent order approved by the board Wednesday, Powell is permanently barred from caring for a patient with an artificial airway in a home health care setting or in any setting without the presence of other licensed nurses. The order does allow her to continue caring for one adult with an artificial airway who she has been caring for since 2008. Her employer will have to regularly report to DPH on the quality of Powell’s care of that patient.

Four Nursing Homes Fined

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has cited and fined four Connecticut nursing homes for various lapses of care. Bridgeport Manor was fined $1,940 for two instances earlier this year. In a Jan. 14 incident, a nurse aide found a resident slumped in a wheelchair with the wheelchair safety belt around the neck. According to the citation, the resident’s head and neck were on the seat of the wheelchair, the wheelchair’s seatbelt was choking the resident and the resident’s lips were turning blue.

State Board Disciplines Eight Nurses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing last week disciplined eight nurses, including seven for cases that involved drugs. The board last Wednesday revoked the registered nurse license of Lisa Fabrizio, who is formerly from Monroe, after it found that she took jewelry from patients and computers from her work at Lighthouse Home Healthcare in Old Saybrook and was trading the goods for heroin, state records show. In June, she was charged by Stratford police with third-degree larceny after a detective determined she was pawning stolen jewelry, tools and electronics in local shops, state records show. She is also facing multiple criminal charges in connection with a hit-and-run accident in August, when she told police she had recently used heroin, records show. The board found that her abuse of heroin was affecting her practice as a nurse and that her thefts constituted a failure to conform to the standards of the nursing profession, records show.

Med Board Fines Doc For Improper Opioid Prescribing; Another For Stealing Drugs

The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday disciplined a Fairfield pulmonologist for improperly prescribing opioids and a former UConn Health doctor who had stolen medication from the health center for his private practice. Dr. Igal Staw, who works at Respiratory Associates in Fairfield, was reprimanded, fined $7,500 and has been permanently restricted from prescribing opioids, under a consent order he agreed to. He also must hire a supervisor to monitor his drug prescriptions and will be placed on two years of probation if his state registration to prescribe controlled substances is ever reinstated, the order said. In 2012 and 2013, Staw prescribed opioids to eight patients with chronic pain, including some who may have been abusing the medicine, the order said. He also failed to document the reasons for the prescriptions or justify in the patients’ medical charts why he was increasing the doses, state records show.

DPH Fines Three Nursing Homes Following Lapses In Care

The state has cited and fined three nursing homes for various violations, including mismanagement of medication. The state Department of Public Health fined Apple Rehab Rocky Hill $3,000 for seven incidents. One incident on Oct. 27, 2016, involved a resident’s hospitalization for an uncontrolled nosebleed. DPH found staff had mismanaged the resident’s anticoagulant medication prescriptions.

Inpatient Mental Health Coverage Rare For State Insurance Plans

The state’s top insurers were more likely to approve claims for mental health services in 2015 than the year before, but rates of rejection for residential care remained high, a new state report shows. About 6.4 percent of claims for mental health services were rejected by eight top managed care insurers – down from about 8 percent in 2014 – according to an analysis of the 2016 Consumer Report Card on Health Insurance Carriers in Connecticut. At the same time, insurers continued to deny more than one in six requests for residential behavioral health care. And the percentage of managed care plan enrollees who received any inpatient services for mental health was low, with most companies providing such services for fewer than 0.3 percent of all enrollees. The analysis is based on eight companies that reported the same categories of data in 2015 and 2016 to the state Insurance Department, which changed the reporting format across the two years.

Proposed Bill Would End ‘Custody For Care’

State officials and parent advocates gave different versions Tuesday of how often, and why, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) takes custody of children with severe behavioral health problems – and whether the practice should continue. Advocates, including a group of adoptive parents, told the legislature’s Committee on Children that a proposed bill that would prohibit DCF from “requesting, recommending or requiring” that parents relinquish their custodial rights when seeking mental health treatment for their children is needed to stop a practice known as ‘trading custody for care.’ The bill, drafted by state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, was prompted by an October C-HIT story that described DCF’s use of “uncared for” custody petitions against parents who could not manage their children at home and insisted on specialized residential care. In testimony Tuesday, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said the agency resorts to taking over custody only in rare cases in which parents refuse to take their children home from inpatient settings or “will not cooperate” with clinician-recommended in-home or community-based treatment services. “We disagree with the notion that DCF requires parents to completely relinquish custody of their children” to receive suitable behavioral health care, Katz said. She acknowledged that the agency has sharply reduced the number of children it places in residential treatment.

Derby Nurse’s Sentencing Delayed Until July

A federal judge has agreed to a six-month delay in sentencing a Derby nurse who pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks in exchange for prescribing a powerful opioid painkiller because she is cooperating in “numerous ongoing criminal investigations,” according to court records. U.S. District Judge Michael Shea approved a Jan. 17 agreement between federal prosecutors and attorneys for Heather Alfonso that delays her sentencing another six months, until July 2017. Alfonso was charged in June 2015 with accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for her high prescribing of the drug Subsys. In arguing for the new sentencing delay, the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut said Alfonso “continues to cooperate in (investigations in) several federal and state jurisdictions, including the District of Connecticut.” A previous story by C-HIT reported on prior sentencing delays because she was cooperating in an ongoing federal probe.

State Disciplines Three Nurses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined three nurses, including one who dealt in anabolic steroids. In the steroid case, the board fined RN Michael Mase of New Milford $3,000 and placed his license on probation for a year. He has said he started using steroids in connection with power lifting and that he bought them for his own use and to share with friends, records show. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and intent to sell steroids, records show, and is now on criminal probation through 2018. Under the consent order he signed with the nursing board, Mase must undergo random drug tests but he can stay employed as an independent contractor with Vivacity Life Center in Stamford.

Med Board Disciplines Four Doctors, Fines Stonington Doc $8,000

The state Medical Examining Board disciplined four doctors on Tuesday, including fining a Stonington doctor $8,000 for failing to provide adequate follow-up care for a patient who later died of cancer. Dr. David Burchenal of Stonington was also reprimanded and placed on three years of probation under a consent order approved by the board. During the probation, Burchenal must hire a physician to randomly review his patient records and must take a course in assessing urinary tract disorders. In November, the board had rejected a $3,000 fine against Burchenal, with some members saying they wanted a stiffer penalty. Burchenal failed to follow up on test results that showed his patient, George A. Ruffo, had abnormally high red blood cell counts in 2011 and 2012, state records show.