- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

A nurse believed to have hastened the deaths of one or more critically ill patients has been fired from the Rockville hospital where she worked, a hospital spokesman said yesterday.

Coleen M. Thompson, 34, was let go Tuesday from her job in the intensive-care unit of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, spokesman Robert Jepson said.

Mrs. Thompson was suspended with pay by the hospital earlier this month after a colleague said she had allowed a patient to die without doing anything to intervene. She has not been charged with any crime.

Mr. Jepson said the decision to dismiss the nurse was “consistent with our ongoing internal review and applicable hospital policies.” He would not say whether the internal review has reached any conclusions in the case.

The Maryland Board of Nursing suspended Mrs. Thompson’s license July 16, saying her inaction as the patient died showed “a complete lack of professional responsibility and competency.”

Mrs. Thompson had a hearing scheduled for Tuesday with the board, but it was postponed to Aug. 26 at the request of her attorney, Phil Armstrong.

Mr. Armstrong did not immediately return a phone call yesterday seeking comment on the firing.

The Montgomery County police and the county State’s Attorney Office have both opened investigations into Mrs. Thompson’s actions and whether there may be other patients involved. Police searched her house earlier this month. Both agencies have said it will be a long investigation.

Mrs. Thompson began working at Shady Grove in May 2002 through a nurse-staffing agency and was hired by the hospital three months later. She completed her training at Montgomery College in 1999.

In the order suspending Mrs. Thompson’s license, the state nursing board detailed the case of an unidentified 63-year-old woman who came to the hospital July 1 suffering from respiratory failure, respiratory distress, pneumonia and septic shock.

Mrs. Thompson did not follow doctors orders while treating the patient several days later on an overnight shift, the board found. She failed to administer the proper drugs even as the patient’s blood pressure plummeted and only called a doctor minutes before the woman died, according to the complaint.

Shady Grove had received about 330 calls as of last week to a hot line set up for inquiries about Mrs. Thompson, Mr. Jepson said.


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