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Guilty Verdict in Nursing Home Manslaughter Case: Nurse Who Gave Alzheimer’s Patients Morphine Gets 5 Months Behind Bars

As a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney, I was shocked and saddened to read about the tragedy of Rachel Holliday, an 84 year old patient at a Chapel Hill nursing home, who passed away after being horribly abused. She allegedly got sick after being doped with morphine by a nurse who apparently didn’t want to be bothered to care for her patients.

Nurse Angela Almore was sentenced last Monday to five months behind bars and two and a half years of probation as part of a plea deal she made with prosecutors. The allegations against Almore were all too familiar to anyone who has studied the nursing home abuse case literature. Nurse Almore had been on duty at Britthaven Nursing Home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on February 13 and February 14, 2010. On Valentine’s Day evening, Holliday started suffering respiratory distress; and she had to be rushed to UNC Hospitals for treatment.

Doctors at first couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. They eventually realized that there were opiates in her system. This was confusing, since she had not been prescribed opiates.

As her medical crisis deepened, other patients in the Alzheimer’s unit began to exhibit lethargy and signs of health problems. Many of them needed to be rushed to hospital as well. All told, 14 patients in the unit tested positive for opiates – and only one had been prescribed opiates.

Sadly, Rachel Holliday passed away from morphine toxicity. The other affected patients fortunately survived their overdoses. Investigators with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation found circumstantial evidence pegging Almore as the responsible party. The local district attorney, Lamar Proctor Jr., told the judge in the case that “[Almore] made some statements that she didn’t want to see patients that night…[so] she knocked all their a**es out.”

After reflecting on the gravity and sadness of the situation, we’d be in remiss if we did not try to extract useful lessons. Here’s one key takeaway: when caregivers shirk their duties – even innocuously — the effects on patients can be profound, damaging, and perhaps even fatal.

At her trial, Almore openly sobbed and expressed contrition. But what she did cannot be undone. Unfortunately, the slight errors of omission – or acts of disrespect – that often constitute Pennsylvania nursing home abuse/neglect can easily create havoc and pain for elderly residents and their families.

That said, building a compelling case against a nursing home or a nursing home employee can be surprisingly difficult. At Rosenbaum & Associates, we have nearly two and a half decades of experience helping hurt elderly patients and their relatives obtain compensation and justice.

If you’re confused or frustrated about what’s happened to your loved one, our Pennsylvania personal injury team can empower you and help you develop a complete, aggressive strategy to get you results.

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