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2 nurses suspended for 'intentional patient harm'

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: 1 baby is critical after catheters were "disrupted" in neonatal intensive care unit
  • NEW: Hospital conducted an internal review in February
  • NEW: Police have determined the incidents involved "intentional patient harm"
  • Hospital says 14 catheter "disruptions" are reported in unit
  • Las Vegas
  • Nursing

(CNN) -- The Nevada State Board of Nursing has suspended the licenses of two nurses named by police in a criminal investigation of "disrupted" catheter lines at a hospital neonatal intensive care unit, the board's executive director said Wednesday.

The two nurses, identified in board documents as Jessica May Rice and Sharon Ochoa-Reyes, have not been arrested or charged with a crime, but the nursing board found that the results of the ongoing police investigation warranted the license suspensions.

Nursing board director Debra Scott said that Rice, a nurse for four years, and Ochoa-Reyes, a nurse for 19 years, worked at Las Vegas' Sunrise Hospital, where hospital officials and police had been investigating several incidents in which catheters had been "disrupted."

The incidents involved peripherally inserted central catheters, or PICC lines, Sunrise Hospital said in a statement last week. The specialized catheters provide long-term access to a vein and are used to provide nutrition, give medication or draw blood, the statement said.

The hospital launched an internal review in February, concentrating on "product performance and staff education," the statement said, and no disruptions were reported for several weeks.

After another one occurred, the hospital retained a plastics engineer with an independent lab to evaluate the lines. The facility then discovered that another kind of catheter, an umbilical arterial catheter, also had been disrupted. Such catheters have a low failure rate, the hospital said.

Hospital officials increased security and installed cameras as part of their review. They also contacted Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and regulatory agencies, including the Nevada State Board of Nursing and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There were two "unexpected outcomes" involving the infant patients at the unit, the hospital statement said.

"One patient required an additional procedure and is currently doing well," the statement said. "The second patient remains in critical condition in the neonatal intensive care unit."

Law enforcement officials notified the nursing board last month that Ochoa-Reyes and Rice were part of their investigation into the problems at Sunrise, Scott said. The board took quick action to suspend the women's licenses.

According to the legal summary suspension of license documents, police found that the Sunrise incidents involved "intentional patient harm."

The documents for each nurse say the board found in both cases that the nurse violated the Nevada Nurse Practice Act, with those violations including engaging "in conduct likely to deceive, defraud or endanger a patient or the general public."

The board found that it "would be a danger to the public health, safety or welfare" for the nurses to have unrestricted licenses and that suspension of the licenses required emergency action. Accordingly, the board suspended the licenses.

Attempts to reach Ochoa-Reyes and Rice Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.

In all, 14 catheters were "disrupted" at the neonatal intensive care unit, the hospital said.

A hospital spokeswoman would not provide further comment Wednesday. Police were referring questions to the hospital.