Attorney General Cuomo Charges Onondaga County Nurse With Neglecting A Terminally Ill Cancer Patient In The Final Hours Of His Life

SYRACUSE, NY (September 16, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that criminal charges have been filed against an Onondaga County nurse who allegedly ignored the obvious pain of a terminally ill cancer patient, as well as pleas from various members of nursing home staff to help the patient in the final hours of his life. Maura Quinn, a registered nurse who was employed by the Van Duyn Home and Hospital, is charged with neglecting the patient and willfully violating health laws.

“This nurse’s alleged actions are heart wrenching,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Family members must trust medical professionals to act properly when caring for loved ones in their most vulnerable state. In this case, the nurse allegedly ignored not only her obligation to the patient and his family - but also the pleas of her fellow co-workers to help ease the patient's pain. Such conduct is not tolerated by this office, and we will continue to aggressively hold individuals who neglect and abuse their patients accountable.”

Quinn was employed at the Van Duyn Home and Hospital from January 1996 to February 2009. As a charge nurse, she supervised several other nurses and nurse aides and was responsible for the care of the residents on her floor. During a shift on January 31, 2009, several nurses and nurse aides allegedly reported to Quinn that a resident was complaining of serious pain. That resident was a terminally ill patient with a history of colon cancer, chronic renal failure, hypertension, anemia, and pneumonia. Throughout her shift, Quinn was informed that the 93-year-old resident complained of pain and exhibited continuing signs of declining health. Despite repeated pleas from the nursing staff, Quinn allegedly failed to assess the resident or to administer additional pain medication for him. In the following shift, a different charge nurse immediately contacted a physician, and pain medication was then administered to the resident. The resident died later that evening from his host of illnesses.

Quinn, of Route 91 in Fabius, is being charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and with willful violation of health laws (misdemeanors). Quinn today was arraigned before Onondaga Town Justice Craig Kerr and released on her own recognizance pending a November 4 court date.

Special Assistant Attorney General Paul R. Berry is prosecuting the case, under the supervision of Special Assistant Attorney General Ralph D. Tortora, III, Director of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Syracuse Regional Office. Senior Special Investigator Patrick Lynch conducted the investigation.

The charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.