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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that a Walworth County woman has been sentenced for a conviction of Felony Neglect of a Patient Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm. On May 8, 2008, Eileen K. Lee entered a plea to the charge which stems from her employment at Mt. Carmel Medical and Rehabilitation Center located at 677 East State Street, Burlington.
On Friday, July 18, 2008, she appeared before Racine County Circuit Court Judge Charles Constantine and was sentenced to twelve months of incarceration which was imposed but stayed; three years probation with conditions of four months of incarceration, 100 hours of community service, a mental health evaluation and a requirement to cooperate with any treatment. In addition, the court ordered that Lee not be permitted to work in any healthcare facility during the course of her sentence.
"The elderly and others in need of care place great trust in care providers. Most of the time, that trust is well-placed," said Van Hollen. "But sometimes care providers fail to fulfill their responsibilities to those under their care and patients are neglected. Abuse or neglect can lead to serious injury and death. To protect those in need of care, the law criminalizes the abuse and neglect of patients, and to deter future acts of neglect, the Department of Justice takes these cases very seriously."
According to the Department of Justice's criminal complaint, Eileen Lee was employed as Assistant Director of Nursing at Mt. Carmel responsible for patient wound care. Her responsibilities as "Wound Care Nurse" included monitoring wounds, documenting wound status, treatment of wounds, changing bandages and notifying a doctor if a patient's wounds became worse and needed additional medical treatment.
In the first week of April 2005, a patient requiring wound care was admitted to Mt. Carmel with 3 minor wounds. Lee treated this patient for about a month, through the first week in May. Lee stated that although this patient was her most critical patient regarding bedsores, she stopped assessing his wound condition and treating him after the first week in May 2005.
On June 1, 2005, it was discovered that this patient had developed over 11 wounds, with obvious signs of wound infection including odor, discharge, discoloration, in addition to the dramatic increase in the number of wounds. Lee stated that she never checked on his wounds, never treated his wounds, never told anyone else to monitor or treat his wounds and stopped documenting treatment of this patient after the first week in May. Lee claims to have been "overwhelmed" but never asked for assistance and when offered assistance by her superiors, declined.
The patient died on June 25, 2005. Dr. Douglas Kelley, Assistant Medical Examiner for Waukesha County, performed an autopsy and concluded the patient died from bronchopneumonia stemming from bacteria that entered his body through the wounds (decubitis ulcers). In a statement to investigators, Dr. Kelley stated that it was his opinion that the manner of death was neglect.
On June 6, 2005, after the patient had been sent to the hospital, the Administrator for Mt. Carmel, Kathleen Walker, held a meeting with Lee, to discuss the treatment the patient had received. When asked for the weekly pressure ulcer documentation Lee stated it was in her office. She then left the meeting to retrieve the documentation. Lee returned approximately 20 minutes later with reports that had been completed in pencil and had the appearance of having been written all at one time. When asked, Lee claimed the reports were true and accurate. After further questioning, Lee admitted to having falsified the reports because, she said, "I did not want to get in trouble for not having it done."
The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Eric Defort.