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.

Single-Payer Health Care System Now

It is a windy day in New Haven, and a gust shakes the offices of Fair Haven Community Health Center. The executive director, Dr. Suzanne Lagarde, is in an upstairs meeting room, and she looks around quickly. “I don’t have a generator—another one of my nightmares,” she said. Downstairs is a full waiting room. A loss of power would be disastrous.

Medicaid Offers Birth Control Right After Delivery

Low-income women in Connecticut who have just given birth and know they don’t want to get pregnant again anytime soon are now offered a long-acting birth control option postpartum. Medical providers say the policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, as well as lead to better maternal health outcomes by ensuring pregnancies are spaced a healthy length of time apart. Connecticut’s HUSKY program is one of 26 state Medicaid programs nationwide that reimburses hospitals for administering long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—namely, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants—to Medicaid patients. HUSKY started reimbursing for the devices last year. “It’s a great thing,” said Dr. Elizabeth Purcell, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Hartford.

Women At Higher Risk For Opioid Addiction, Face Treatment Barriers

Stephanie Almada’s journey to opioid addiction began with a prescription to relieve her premenstrual symptoms and accelerated after she had a cesarean section. “The pain pills came, you know, very quickly and I had bottles at home anyway,” she said. “And then it became energy for me. It became the way I coped with life.” Today Almada, 44, is a peer recovery specialist at Wheeler Clinic in Plainville, where she helps women get off opioids. Americans are using opioids at record rates.

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.

PTSD Is Top Diagnosis Among Women Vets Treated By CT VA

The top diagnosis of women veterans treated in the VA Connecticut Healthcare System is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it is usually accompanied by other mental health illnesses, according to VA officials. Most women veterans suffer from a mental illness, studies show, and the VA is taking steps to focus more on female-specific mental health care. A national study commissioned by the VA, Barriers to Care for Women Veterans, found that 52 percent of women veterans said they needed mental health care, but only 24 percent sought treatment. A survey by the nonprofit Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) showed that women veterans consider mental health to be their biggest challenge. At Connecticut VA facilities, 1,404 women had at least one mental health visit last year, representing 45 percent of women who use the VA.

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.

State Ranks High In Opioid-Related Visits To Hospitals

In less than eight hours last June, Yale New Haven’s emergency department treated 12 patients who had overdosed on opioids. Three died; nine were saved. With opioids in wide circulation, Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, chief of emergency medicine at the hospital and chair of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine, isn’t sure that one-day spike will stand as a record. “To be honest, no, I don’t expect the numbers to get better,” D’Onofrio said. “We’re going to have more treatment options in Connecticut, I think, more safe prescribing — but I don’t know that we’ll see improvements in the numbers of people using.”

D’Onofrio’s concerns are borne out in a recent report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that ranks Connecticut the 5th highest among 30 states in the rate of opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits — 254.6 per 100,000 population in 2014, well above national rate of 177.7.

Risk Of Death In Connecticut Linked To Where You Live

Connecticut has seen significant reductions in deaths from breast and colon cancer in the last three decades, but the state exceeds the national mortality rate for uterine cancer and three other cancers, as well as for mental health and substance use disorders. An analysis of data compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, published in JAMA, also shows wide disparities between Connecticut counties in death rates from certain cancers and other illnesses. Windham County had the highest mortality rates for seven of 10 cancers identified in the study as having the highest disease burden or responsiveness to screening and treatment, including pancreatic, uterine and lung cancer. Tolland County, meanwhile, had the lowest death rates for five cancers, including breast cancer, while Fairfield County was lowest for four. Similarly, deaths from chronic respiratory diseases in Windham County were nearly double the rate in Fairfield County – 63.13 per 100,000, compared to 34.15.