On Wednesday, the Kern County Superior Court, California, sentenced a nursing director to three years in state prison for drugging elderly patients with psychotropic medications for convenience of the staff at the nursing center.
Gwen Hughes, the 59-year old former director of nursing of a hospital near Bakersfield, was convicted and sentenced for ordering 23 elderly patients to be treated with powerful anti-psychotic drugs to keep them quiet. According to the state attorney general, the nursing director used such methods to make work easier for staff by making the elderly patients tranquil and controllable.
Prior to the trial, Hughes had pleaded no contest to one felony count of elder abuse that had ultimately led to the death of a patient.
The case is a rare instance of successfully convicting a medical practitioner on convenience drugging of elders.
A press release issued from the California Attorney General’s office mentioned that Hughes used to order the drugs for patients who were argumentative, prone to wandering, or appeared noisy to the staff. Many of the patients suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
According to the press release, all 23 patients suffered complications and the drugs contributed to the deaths of at least three patients.
However, Hughes’s lawyer emphasized that there was never any malicious intention in Hughes’s actions. He said, “It’s just a case of negligence that tragically resulted in some deaths.”
However, Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, said in her statement, “This defendant maliciously and dangerously drugged patients for her own convenience.”
According to prosecutors, Hughes had told the hospital’s pharmacy director to create the doctor’s orders for the drugs in question. Later, those orders were forwarded to the medical director of the center, Hoshang Pormir. Pormir, whose signature was upon the orders is serving 300 hours community service for his negligence.