“Mercy” killings or just murder?

Today we have a guest writer, Heather Johnson. who is a regular contributor to RNCentral.com, a great site for nurses and others interested in the nursing field.  We thank Heather for help insightful contribution.  Below is her entry.

Nursing Home Workers Face Neglect, Fraud Charges

Chicago Sun-Times reports that Nurse Marty Himebaugh and nursing director Penny Whitlock of a Woodstock, Illinois nursing home have been charged with criminal neglect of their patients and fraud. Police are currently investigating the deaths of six patients, which may be related to Himebaugh’s reputation for playing “Angel of Death” to her patients. Allegedly, she gave patients overdoses of morphine when she worked at the nursing home and Whitlock failed to reprimand her.

Complaints had been filed against Himebaugh many times before she was eventually put on leave from her job in 2006. Some allege that Whitlock not only failed to discipline Himebaugh in a timely manner, she could have been encouraging the illegal actions. Authorities exhumed the bodies of three patients to determine if they had died as a result of an overdose, though results have not been made public.

In addition to criminal neglect, Whitlock has been charged with obstruction of justice after she allegedly ordered the destruction of drugs in the nursing home. Himebaugh also faces additional charges for fraudulently obtaining and illegally dispensing morphine. Police are not expected to file any more criminal charges against current or former employees of the nursing home.

According to attorney Steven Levin, who was hired by the family of an alleged victim, “It was flat out an attempt to kill people. I mean we don’t kill old people in nursing homes in this country.”