Involuntary Manslaughter: Another Nurse Thrown Under The Bus!
Another nurse has been “fed to the wolves” by her employer. And now she’s in the cross hairs of the criminal justice system.
Aminata Fofana, RN, pled guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 72-year-old patient Paul Mallory of Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Mallory was in a nursing home following several strokes and an aneurysm. He was completely debilitated and required oxygen through a tracheostomy.
Ms. Fofana was about to complete her night shift when she found Mr. Mallory’s mask had become soiled. She removed it for cleaning but, unfortunately, forgot to return the oxygen to the patient who then succumbed to asphyxiation.
Initially, the nursing home director told the Ohio Department of Health that the patient must have displaced the tubing. However, according to the family, Mr. Mallory’s only physical movement capability was being able to open and close his eyes.
Ms. Fofana pled guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge and was visibly shaken during her sentencing. She apologized to Mrs. Mallory and to the court as she expressed heartfelt remorse. A civil suit for negligence and wrongful death is still pending against the nursing home.
This isn’t the first time that a nurse has committed an act of medical malpractice only to wind up being criminally charged in a patient’s injury or death. How many more nurses are going to be made out as scapegoats where a nurse was doing her job albeit negligently?
I’m presuming that maybe the number of on-duty staff wasn’t up to par at the time of the accident. Given what is going on in healthcare, I would assume it very likely was a busy night and Ms. Fofana was dealing with a lot of responsibilities.
Unfortunately, it is chronic understaffing and sheer burnout for those who must deal with these horrible conditions that critically limit nurses’ abilities to provide the best possible care for their patients.
Ms. Fofana was forthcoming and honest from the very beginning but not only was she terminated from her position, she is being forced to surrender her license and prohibited from providing nursing assistance to anyone, even as a volunteer position.
Fortunately, the judge was lenient and, along with forfeiting her license, Ms. Fofana was ordered to pay a $500 fine, provide 100 hours of supervised community service, have her probation officer approve any future employment and to take classes as might be recommended by the officer. I did check on Nursys.com to find her license is still active.
Despite the apparent indulgence by the judge, Ms. Fofana now has permanent criminal charges on her license record for just doing her job, albeit negligently.
I hope that this apparent trend of filing criminal charges against nurses will end or at least become less frequent. After all, who is going to want to enter the nursing profession if they know they could face criminal charges should they make a mistake?
Ms. Fofana’s matter clearly falls under the scope of medical malpractice and should not be elevated to the level of a criminal matter.
We have enough issues in nursing that we must deal with on a daily basis. Fear of possibly losing your freedom should not be one of them.