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Post date: August 20 2007

Columbia County Nurse Arrested; Injured Patient, Concealed Actions

ALBANY, NY (August 20, 2007) – Agents of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit today arrested a former nurse at Whittier Rehab and Skilled Nursing Center in Ghent who recklessly injured a patient and then hid the incident from facility staff.

Registered Nurse Brenda L. Griffin, 43, of Harder Road, Hillsdale, was charged in a felony complaint with Falsification of Business Records and Offering a False Instrument for Filing as well as misdemeanor Reckless Endangerment and Willful Violation of Health Laws. She was arraigned in the Justice Court of the Town of Ghent by Justice David Harrison, Sr.

“The combination of incompetence and dishonesty alleged in this case is unacceptable,” Attorney General Cuomo said. “Our office is working to ensure patients can count on quality, professional care in New York’s health facilities – anything less will be prosecuted aggressively.”

According to the charges filed against her, Griffin changed a resident’s catheter without a physician’s order, despite rules forbidding her to do so, causing injury to the patient. She then failed to inform the treating physician of what she had done even as the resident’s symptoms worsened. In addition, she covered up her actions by leaving them off the resident’s medical chart.

Griffin is also accused of renewing her nursing license under false pretenses by failing to disclose that she had been restricted by the facility she used to work for, and that she had resigned to avoid the full imposition of those restrictions.

The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. Griffin pleaded not guilty to all counts of the complaint, and was released on her own recognizance. Under the terms of her release, Griffin is not to have any patient contact in her capacity as a nurse at a different facility, unless under direct supervision of another RN. She is due back in court on September 17.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Thomas N. Schleif of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Albany Regional Office, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General Heidi Wendel, Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Special Investigator Francis Galerie and Medical Analyst Stephanie Keyser, R.N. conducted the investigation of the case.