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New Jersey - Jersey Shore Nurse Charged in Heart Patient's Death

Published on: September 9, 2008 01:46 PM
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Lorie Hentges, nurse at Jersey Shore University Medical Center accused of killing a patient.New Jersey - A nurse from Jersey Shore University Medical Center was charged with killing a 72-year-old patient by injecting him with an unprescribed paralytic drug.

Lorie Hentges, 39, of Brick Township, is charged with one count of murder in the April 14, 2007, death of Alvin Flamenbaum of Toms River, according to an indictment returned by a Monmouth County grand jury.

Flamenbaum, a former vice president of Barclays Bank in New York City with a history of heart disease and surgeries, had been removed from life support on April 13, 2007, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin. His condition declined rapidly the next day, and he died in the afternoon.

After the treating nurse reported coming across Hentges in the victim’s room on the day he died, a criminal investigation was started on April 16, Valentin said. It included an autopsy that revealed the presence of the paralytic drug.
Hentges violated the trust society places in its nurses, the prosecutor said, “by purposely or knowingly causing the death of this terminally ill man.”

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Alton Kenney, Hentges’ attorney, said his client vehemently denied the charges.
“All my client did was go in and hold the hand of a dying man, who by all accounts was not expected to live through the night,” Kenney said.

The incident comes five years after nurse Charles Cullen confessed to killing up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania hospitals where he worked, a case that sent shock waves through the hospital and nursing community. That incident prompted a series of reforms that include prompt reporting of suspected criminal events to state authorities.

Kenney noted the accusation was based on the statement of one individual—the treating nurse neither he nor Valentin would identify—and he implied that nurse was the actual killer.
“That individual is the person who did something contrary to doctors’ orders,” he said.

Kenney said the drug is available throughout the hospital and is routinely used when breathing tubes are inserted or removed from patients’ throats. Flamenbaum had his ventilator tube removed when he was taken off life support, he said.

Hentges, a Jersey Shore employee since March 1996, was suspended a day after the investigation began and was fired in October.
She appeared in Freehold before Superior Court Judge Francis DeStefano, who set her bail at $250,000. She faces at least 30 years in prison if convicted.

An experienced critical care nurse, Hentges worked at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood before taking the job at Jersey Shore, he added.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services fined the hospital $475,000 for failing to report the incident the day it happened. Although it suspended Hentges on April 17 and notified the state Board of Nursing two days later, the hospital did not report the investigation to the health department until Aug. 1, 2008, state officials said.

Anyone with information regarding Hentges’ actions as a registered nurse is asked to call prosecutor’s detective Daniel Baldwin at (800) 533-7443 or Neptune Township Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Force at (732) 988-8000.



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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 09, 2008 at 02:29 PM deepthinker Says:

MURDER?

SOUNDS LIKE A SIMPLE MISTAKE IN PROCEDURE.

2

 Sep 09, 2008 at 03:51 PM SHVITZER Says:

As someone in the Nursing Home business this lady ignored policy and procedure which is to get a doctors order for any drug or treatment done to a patient. She is a murderer for not obeying policies that are in place to protect patients from such harm. I also would not report the incident till I fully investigate what happened and have all my facts straight. I think the hospital should fight the fine for not reporting the incident on the day the drug was given. Additionally, I have seen the same thing happen with a nurse I know but thank god the family did not request an autopsy and the resident was buried. Her Facility still fired that nurse.

3

 Sep 09, 2008 at 05:03 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

She was in the room, and that's sufficient evidence? It definitely sound like a personal fight between two nurses. I would love to see how any prosecutor will be succesful with this case.

4

 Sep 09, 2008 at 06:49 PM Palin does not speak for me Says:

My sister who is a retired critical care nurse tells me that the majority of US health care dollars are spent "end of life", that is on procedures that are done on people who have zero hope of surviving even several hours or days.

Many critical care nurses get burned out watching people suffer endless procedures that do nothing more than run up enormous bills to Medicare which we all pay for.

We live in a country where a substantial percentage of children are without health care and yet the abuses abound in a system that routinely spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical care for people who are without a doubt in their last hours of life.

We just went through it personally when my 90 year old grandmother had a stroke and was in a coma. Despite my grandmother's written wishes not to be on a ventilator, she was ventilated. After the stroke which left my grandmother comatose, numerous expensive tests including MRIs were performed in the hours before she passed away.

Ironically, my cousin, a middle aged mother with a PKD cannot get her insurance carrier to pay for an MRI on her kidneys, they will only pay for less accurate ultrasounds, while our 90 year old comatose grandmother, who has suffered advanced dementia and kidney failure for several years, who was unable to breathe on her own had at least three MRIs in the hours before she passed away.

I am not justifying this nurses actions which are clearly wrong, but maybe the judges might be able to understand what she was thinking while watching yet another patient suffer countless, needless medical procedures in his last hours of life.

5

 Sep 09, 2008 at 11:23 PM dont play Gd!! Says:

6:49 poster--do you think you are Gd?? do you think doctors or nurses are Gd?? there's a reason halacha doesnt allow for shortening a person's life!! Doctors dont always know whose life is about to end. How can you know who has "zero hope of surviving"??? are you Gd? several yrs ago we were told my son had zero chance of suviving. doctors didnt want to operate on him, saying it's not worth wasting their precious time on a baby too sick to survive a surgery. after threatening legal action, they ended with no choice, and had to do the surgery. B"H he's a regular kid today in a regular yeshiva. so does anybody know who has "no hope of surviving"?? NO! that's why it's our job to fight for life, and leave the rest to Gd.

6

 Sep 10, 2008 at 09:39 AM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

everybody's quoting anecdotes. listen : right is right, wrong is wrong. you do not prolong suffering, and you do not end life. i don't know of any reports of G-d cleaning out His desk.

7

 Sep 10, 2008 at 07:00 PM from NJ Says:

The halacha does not allow for shortening a person's life, but that is not what 6:49 was talking about. I am the above mentioned woman's granddaughter. The issue was multiple expensive diagnostic tests performed on a woman who was taking her last breaths of life.

First our poor grandmother was ventilated despite the fact that she had a halachic living will and this was against her wishes. Then the doctors ruled our grandmother brain dead, which was ridiculous and they sought and enforced a court order to remove the ventilator. Once the ventilator was removed, our grandmother breathed on her own proving that she was not brain dead. Still the family was given no hope of survival for more than a few hours, it was the family's only wishes that our grandmother be left in peace and not tortured with endless medical tests that were not ordered in an attempt to save her life, only to measure her rate of death.

Despite pleas from the entire extended family, the doctors ordered and performed numerous MRIs and other expensive tests to measure the rate of death (ie. brain damage, blood gases, kidney failure, electrolytes, EKGS, and heart tests). Altogether it is estimated that $200,000 worth of diagnostic tests were performed in the last 72 hours of life, AFTER the doctors sought and were granted a court order to remove life support. Ironic, isn't it??

As an Orthodox family following Orthodox halachic psak, we found that our religious beliefs were not AT ALL respected by the Jersey Shore hospital where our grandmother passed away.

8

 Sep 22, 2008 at 09:41 PM Anonymous Says:

I know the accused personally and profesionally. She would never put her nursing license on the line for an unethical reason, she has much more integrity than that. She works with dying patients day in and day out. She had no attachment to this patient who wasn't even hers. There are many things that the news is NOT communicating...like the fact that the accused has not 1 blemish on her record in 13 years of nursing. And the fact that the patients Primary nurse DOES. It does not relay the fact that she was SUPPOSED to be in the room with the patient because she was covering for the PRIMARY nurse on lunch...among many other things.
The thing about pointing the finger at someone is that 4 other fingers are pointing back at you.

9

 Sep 27, 2008 at 09:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Palin does not speak for me Says:

My sister who is a retired critical care nurse tells me that the majority of US health care dollars are spent "end of life", that is on procedures that are done on people who have zero hope of surviving even several hours or days.

Many critical care nurses get burned out watching people suffer endless procedures that do nothing more than run up enormous bills to Medicare which we all pay for.

We live in a country where a substantial percentage of children are without health care and yet the abuses abound in a system that routinely spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical care for people who are without a doubt in their last hours of life.

We just went through it personally when my 90 year old grandmother had a stroke and was in a coma. Despite my grandmother's written wishes not to be on a ventilator, she was ventilated. After the stroke which left my grandmother comatose, numerous expensive tests including MRIs were performed in the hours before she passed away.

Ironically, my cousin, a middle aged mother with a PKD cannot get her insurance carrier to pay for an MRI on her kidneys, they will only pay for less accurate ultrasounds, while our 90 year old comatose grandmother, who has suffered advanced dementia and kidney failure for several years, who was unable to breathe on her own had at least three MRIs in the hours before she passed away.

I am not justifying this nurses actions which are clearly wrong, but maybe the judges might be able to understand what she was thinking while watching yet another patient suffer countless, needless medical procedures in his last hours of life.

I totally agree with your comments. It's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!!. When my mother was brought to the ER (83) they wanted to do the whole circus routine.
I asked the doctor if she was going to be able to walk out of there eventually.
He said no - so I said no to all the food tubes, intubation, etc. My mom passed in an hour or so in my arms in the ER with me talking in her ear (coma) telling her I loved her. However, not everyone who is old should be looked upon as not worth the effort if they are not terminal. Some nurses today look upon them selves as God. Some can be very bossy, abrupt and annoyed with patients when they are not obeyed!!! A catalog for Nurses that I recently looked at to get a gift for someone has things in it like: "OBEY your NURSE" and many other such threatening things. So again, some are to involved with their self importance and get carried away with what they are suppose to do. No one knows if this young lady did administered this paralytic 'after' the support was removed. It could have been in the person's system prior to the removal of the support since it is routinely ordered for people intubated on support. I am questioning why the autopsy report carefully specifies UNPRESCRIBED. Who are they covering?

10

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