The state Board of Examiners for Nursing has recommended disciplining an East Hartford nurse for her actions when a 13-month-old girl she was caring for in Manchester stopped breathing and died in 2014. A June 14 investigative report concluded that licensed practical nurse Shirley A. Powell failed to provide rescue breathing and CPR when the girl’s tracheotomy tube became dislodged. The report, by Helen M. Centeno, a nurse consultant for the state Department of Public Health, also found that Powell failed to safeguard the girl by not having a direct view of her in the playpen in the child’s home on the day of the death, Aug. 15, 2014. Manchester police concluded that Powell left the girl out of her line of sight for 3 to 15 minutes and during that time, the tube became dislodged, the report said.
A former executive of Insys Therapeutics has been criminally charged for leading a special “reimbursement unit” at the company that defrauded insurers into paying for a potent opioid pain medication by falsely claiming patients had cancer and other conditions needed for pre-approval. Elizabeth Gurrieri, a former manager of reimbursement services for Arizona-based Insys, was charged with wire fraud conspiracy in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Boston. The complaint sheds light on a Connecticut case involving a Derby nurse who has been charged with taking kickbacks from Insys in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl spray, Subsys. The nurse, Heather Alfonso, has been cooperating with investigators in Boston and Connecticut in an ongoing probe of Insys’ sales tactics. The complaint against Gurrieri notes that patients needed prior authorizations from insurance companies to cover the costs of Subsys, an expensive drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 for the management of breakthrough pain in patients with cancer who already were receiving opioid pain treatment.
The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday placed a Westport doctor on probation for abusing alcohol and continued a requirement that a Woodbridge pulmonologist who had sexual contact with two women during medical exams have a chaperone present when examining female patients. The board unanimously rejected a request from the pulmonologist, Dr. Sushil Gupta, that the chaperone requirement be dropped. His lawyer, James Biondo of Stamford, wrote to the board that the restriction was keeping Gupta from gaining privileges at a hospital. Biondo wrote that Gupta will never stop using a chaperone even if the restriction is lifted because Gupta “will forever be at risk for a predatory patient given his history.”
At the meeting, Biondo said Yale New Haven Hospital and Griffin Hospital have rejected Gupta’s request for privileges, creating a hardship when Gupta’s patients are hospitalized. Over the objections of state Department of Public Health lawyers, the board reinstated Gupta’s medical license in 2013 and placed it on probation for one year.
A Superior Court judge is expected to decide by year’s end whether to limit the allegations in a lawsuit filed by the estate of a newborn, Calvin Jimmy Lee-White, who died after being given a dietary supplement at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2014. The infant’s grandfather, Rickie Hanes of North Haven, on behalf of the baby’s estate, is suing the hospital and the supplement manufacturer, Solgar, and its parent company NBTY. Yale New Haven, Solgar and NBTY argued in court in August that various claims against them—including reckless disregard for safety and fraudulent misrepresentation of a product’s safety—should be eliminated. Angelo Ziotas, an attorney representing the Lee-White estate, says a written ruling by New Haven Superior Court Judge Steven Ecker will likely come by the end of December, and the judge has set June 2017 as the date to complete discovery and fall 2018 as the trial date. Lee-White, the son of Samantha Pineapple Lee and Aaron White, was born prematurely by C-section on Oct.
Several patient deaths, including the death of a newborn who was given an overdose of medication, were among various violations found at Connecticut hospitals, according to newly released inspection reports from state health officials. The reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine section, cover inspections that took place at hospitals statewide in late 2015 and the first four months of this year. Some of the violations detailed in the reports resulted in death and injuries to patients. Department of Public Health (DPH) inspectors regularly make unannounced visits to all hospitals, during which they tour facilities, observe staff and examine documents. Though the most recently released reports document inspections that took place this year and last, some of the violations they include happened several years ago.
Fifteen months after a Derby nurse admitted taking drug-company kickbacks in exchange for prescribing a powerful opioid painkiller, a former district sales manager for the company was arrested Thursday on federal charges that he helped to orchestrate the kickback scheme. Jeffrey Pearlman, of Edgewood, NJ, who was district sales manager for the New York region for Insys Therapeutics through 2015, and the sales representatives he managed “induced certain physicians, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants to prescribe the pharmaceutical company’s fentanyl spray by paying them to participate in hundreds of sham ‘Speaker Programs,’” according to a release from the U.S Attorney’s Office for Connecticut. The scheme “defrauded federal healthcare programs” of millions of dollars that was paid out improperly for the drug, Subsys, which is approved for use only in cancer patients with breakthrough pain. Federal prosecutors allege that Pearlman “personally profited” from the scheme through inflated quarterly bonuses he received that were based, in large part, on the sales results of the employees he managed. Pearlman, who is no longer employed by Insys, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Five nurses have been disciplined by the state Board of Examiners for Nursing for misconduct ranging from sleeping on the job to abusing heroin or stealing from patients. The board last Wednesday suspended the registered nursing license of Adrian Kozikowski of New Britain because, state records show, he left a shift in July at Autumn Lake Healthcare in New Britain and fell asleep or lost consciousness due to drug use. Between April and July, he abused alcohol, marijuana and Ecstacy, records show, so the state Department of Public Health concluded his practice as a nurse posed a “clear and immediate danger” to the public. The board also suspended the license of Lisa Fabrizio, an RN from Monroe after concluding that she posed a danger as well. While working at Lighthouse Home Healthcare in Old Saybrook, she took property from the home and residents between March and May, records show.
The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday fined two doctors for inappropriately prescribing drugs and rejected a New Haven doctor’s $5,000 fine, saying it was too lenient. The board fined Dr. Jeffrey S. Miller of Torrington $5,000 and reprimanded him. A consent order said that for several years, he prescribed hydrocodone with acetaminophen for two of his wife’s relatives without having a doctor-patient relationship with them. The order also said that Miller permitted his wife to purchase the drugs in Connecticut and mail them to her relatives. Miller chose not to contest the allegations and told the board, “I admit the foolishness.”
The board fined Dr. Robert Dresdner of Wilton $3,000 and reprimanded him for inappropriately prescribing narcotics to two patients without adequately examining them or documenting their treatment in 2014.
The state has ordered a Litchfield rest home to hire an independent consultant after finding various violations, including alcohol use and suspected marijuana use among residents. In a consent order signed Sept. 12, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) said Fernwood Rest Home Inc. has to hire an independent contractor, pre-approved by the department, within two weeks of the order’s signing. The contractor must be a licensed nursing home administrator and will work to ensure resident safety and legal compliance at the facility, according to the order. The contractor also will assess the ability and skill set of the “person in charge” at Fernwood, monitor corrective actions the facility has agreed to take, and submit written reports weekly to DPH.
State health officials have fined five nursing homes at least $1,500 each in connection with residents who were abused or injured and one who died in July after being outside in sweltering heat for hours. On Aug. 10, Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton was fined $3,000 in connection with a resident who died after being outside in a garden for more than three hours on July 27 in 95-degree weather, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH) citation. The resident, who frequently sat in the garden, was in good condition at 2:30 p.m. that day but at 5 p.m., was found to be unresponsive and died about 40 minutes later, the citation said. A review of video at the home could not substantiate that the resident had been checked by staff between 2:30 and 5 p.m., the citation said.