Nurse pleads guilty in patient's death at Chapel Hill home
Posted June 4, 2012 12:32 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2012 3:03 p.m. EDT
Hillsborough, N.C. — A nurse at a Chapel Hill nursing home pleaded guilty Monday in the overdose death of a patient two years ago.
Angela Almore, 46, of 724 Berwick Valley Lane in Cary, will serve five months in prison, followed by 2½ years on probation after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and six counts of felony patient abuse.
As part of her plea, Almore is barred from working in any health care field or facility.
Prosecutors said Almore gave morphine to at least nine patients in the Alzheimer's unit at Britthaven of Chapel Hill, telling them it was "liquid vitamins."
Officials have said some of the patients who tested positive for opiates weren't supposed to be receiving any pain medication at Britthaven, and prosecutors said Almore drugged them to make them more manageable.
Patient Rachel Holliday, 84, died in February 2010. An autopsy wasn't performed on Holliday, but a medical examiner who reviewed her records determined that she died because of pneumonia-related asphyxiation. The report listed "morphine toxicity" as a contributing factor to her death.
Immediately after Holliday's death and the hospitalization of other patients, Britthaven started 24-hour monitoring of patients in the Alzheimer's unit, tested all staff members in the unit for drugs and placed them on paid leave.
The state Nursing Home Licensure Section later recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fine Britthaven $20,000. The agency found the facility didn't ensure patients were protected from abuse, its services didn't meet professional standards, unnecessary drugs were prescribed and significant medication errors occurred.
Britthaven closed temporarily Friday for remodeling.