Nurse's Aide Admits To Stealing Narcotic Patches From Dying Patients At Monroe County Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a nurse's aide at a Rochester-area nursing home has admitted to removing powerful narcotic patches from three terminally ill patients earlier this year.

The patients had been prescribed the patches for pain management. The aide stole the patches for her own use and either left the patients with no patch or replaced the stolen patches with patches she previously used and were no longer effective. In one instance, the pain medication patch had been removed the day before the patient died of cancer.

Maryann Saxe, a nurse's aide formerly employed at Westgate Nursing Home, appeared earlier this week before Gates Town Court Judge John Rivoli and pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws and two counts of Petit Larceny.

Judge Rivoli set sentencing for September 6. He also ordered Saxe, who is presently enrolled in a drug treatment program, to continue treatment.

"Every day patients in nursing homes put their lives and trust in the hands of health care professionals," said Spitzer. "For this employee to betray her sworn duty by stealing the medication of dying patients is cruel, offensive, and inexcusable. This conviction sends a clear message to all health care workers that my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will aggressively prosecute those who mistreat patients in their care."

On February 4, Saxe physically abused a 79-year-old male patient, suffering from Parkinson's disease, by removing a prescribed duragisic patch containing the pain-relief medication Fentanyl from his body, causing a skin burn. Six days later, Saxe removed a second Fentanyl patch from the patient's body.

On February 16, Saxe removed a Fentanyl patch from the body of an 87-year-old female patient suffering from strokes and a hip fracture, and one from the body of a 55-year-old female patient suffering from rectal cancer.

As a result of the unauthorized removal of the patches, Saxe caused the three patients substantial pain and discomfort.

Saxe, a former registered nurse who surrendered her license in September after being charged administratively with stealing medication prescribed for a patient, worked as a nurse's aide at Westgate Nursing Home, located at 525 Beahan Road in Gates, from January to February 17, 2000. Saxe, 35, lives at 39 Grenadier Road in Scottsville.

The Attorney General thanked the State Health Department for referring the case. He also thanked the nursing home for its cooperation during the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Timothy J. McFarland, of the Rochester Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.