WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Newly released video shows a Delaware prison nurse took 18 minutes before calling 911 to rescue an inmate who later died of a heart attack, a response the state nursing board called “incompetent.”
State officials released the video three years after the death of James Tyrone Daniels, 40, under instructions by the state attorney general’s office, The News Journal of Wilmington reported Wednesday. The video had been shown in a public hearing in 2017.
Daniels, who was in custody on a probation violation, is seen collapsing in the cafeteria of Sussex Community Corrections Center, a transitional prison for people returning to the community. His family said he died of a heart attack.
A disciplinary board found the prison nurse’s initial response slow and her actions “egregious” and “incompetent.” Registered nurse Lisa Roseanne Peace did not respond to a request for comment.
“That facility just allowed our son to lay there and die,” Daniels’ father, James Miner, said as he watched the tape for the first time. “Why didn’t help come? He needed help.”
A nursing professor who reviewed the footage echoed the family’s opinion.
“I didn’t detect urgency,” said Louise Reagan of the University of Connecticut.
The video shows Daniels eating breakfast around 6 a.m. on April 10, 2016. He stood up, walked around the table, stumbled and fell into the arms of other prisoners.
One of the responding correctional officers quickly reported the inmate was unresponsive but breathing, that he was making “loud snoring and gurgling sounds” and had a “white substance” draining from his mouth, according to a timeline submitted as evidence in the nurse’s disciplinary hearing.
It took Peace, then employed by the prison contractor Connections Community Support Programs, more than seven minutes to respond to the call. The prison’s policy called for responses in four minutes or less, according to the disciplinary hearing report.
Peace then left Daniels’ side twice, returned to take his blood pressure, and then left Daniels a third time to contact the on-call nurse practitioner.
Reagan said a nurse, whether in a hospital or prison, should never leave their patient’s side.
At the time of Daniels’ death, Connections policy instructed health care workers not to call 911 without the chief medical officer’s approval unless inmates suffered cardiac arrest or had hanged themselves, according to the hearing officer’s report. Connections has since changed that policy.
Peace was terminated and is to blame for what happened, Connections CEO Cathy McKay said in a statement. Peace told the state that she resigned.
A state police investigation found correctional officers responded appropriately and no foul play was suspected, Correction Department spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said.
Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com
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