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Patient Was Ruled To Have Died Of Neglect


MADISON - A wound care nurse from Walworth County, Eileen K. Lee, has been convicted of a felony for her criminal neglect of a patient that resulted in the patient's death, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today.


"The elderly and others in need of care place great trust in care providers. Most of the time, that trust is well-placed," Van Hollen said. "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 sadly in this case, 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."


Eileen Lee appeared before Judge Charles Constantine and entered a plea to the charge of Felony Neglect of a Patient Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm. The case stems from her actions while employed at Mt. Carmel Medical and Rehabilitation Center located at 677 East State Street, Burlington.


According to the Department of Justice's criminal complaint, Eileen Lee was employed as Assistant Director of Nursing at Mt. Carmel and was 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.


As alleged in the complaint, in the first week of April 2005, a patient requiring wound care was admitted to Mt. Carmel with 3 minor wounds. Lee treated the patient for about a month. Lee stated that although the patient was her most critical patient regarding bedsores, she stopped treating him after the first week of May 2005. After the patient was moved from Mt. Carmel to a hospital on June 1, 2005, it was discovered that the patient had developed over 11 wounds, with obvious signs of wound infection including odor, discharge, and discoloration.


According to the criminal complaint, Lee stated the patient was her most critical patient regarding bedsores, but that after the first week of May 2005, she never checked on his wounds, never treated his wounds, never told anyone else to monitor or treat his wounds, and stopped documenting treatment. 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 Kelly, 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; the manner of death was neglect.


Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2008. Lee faces a maximum penalty of 3 years and 6 months of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.


The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Eric Defort.