Kingston Nurse Charged With Failure To Give Life-saving Care To Nursing Home Resident

Patricia Smithmyer Charged With Falsifying Records; Faces Jail Time

Schneiderman: The Wishes Of Nursing Home Patients And Their Families Must Be Respected

PEARL RIVER - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Patricia Smithmyer, a registered and supervising nurse at Golden Hill Care Center in Kingston, who failed to follow the wishes of an 80-year-old resident and the directive of the nursing home by failing to administer CPR when the resident stopped breathing. The failure to offer life-saving care came despite requests from the resident and her family that life-saving procedures be used if the need arose.

Smithmyer, 53, of Kingston, is charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, and Wilful Violation of Health Laws, a misdemeanor. She faces up to four years in prison. 

“As people age, many important decisions need to be made by them and their loved ones – in particular, what measures will be taken to sustain life,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Care centers, such as the one here, have directives in place to ensure the individual’s wishes are followed. When a nurse takes it upon herself to disregard the wishes of a resident, her family and the home’s protocol, she fails in her duty of care. My Ooffice will pursue those who violate the law and their patients’ interests to ensure these difficult decisions are left in the hands of those who are directly affected by the choice.”

The resident suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Alzheimer’s disease. While the family and the resident requested the care, the home’s protocol also called for life-saving procedures unless the resident had a Do Not Resuscitate order in effect. 

On January 8, 2013, the resident went into respiratory distress, and Smithmyer, the supervising nurse on the shift, was called to her room. The resident stopped breathing while Smithmyer and other staff members were in the room. As the supervising nurse and an RN, it was Smithmyer’s duty to commence life-saving measures. Even though she knew the resident had requested CPR, Smithmyer failed to commence CPR and, despite being asked what to do by the other staff members, did not direct anyone else to initiate it. The resident was pronounced dead a short time later. In the home’s investigation into the incident, Smithmyer provided a false written statement in which she claimed that she was not in the room when the resident stopped breathing and was only told about it some minutes after it happened. 

Smithmyer was arraigned today in Kingston City Court before Judge Lawrence Ball and released on her own recognizance. The charges against the defendant are accusations and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

The investigation was led by Special Investigator Michael Mataraza with the assistance of Supervising Special Investigator Peter Markiewicz. Special Assistant Attorney General William McClarnon of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Pearl River Regional Office is prosecuting the case, with Regional Director Anne Jardine, Chief of Criminal Investigations Downstate Thomas O’Hanlon, Acting Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Amy Held and Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. 

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