Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Good Night Nurse: This is not the kind of thing I usually follow but that nasty business of the nurse who murdered dozens of patients is really perverse. It turns out this guy was under deep suspicion before at his previous jobs but everyone's hands were tied by policy designed to protect the killers rights.
Mr. Cullen, who prosecutors now say has admitted killing 30 to 40 patients during a 14-year career, walked away from his job at St. Luke's rather than answer questions, officials said, and investigators, despite dozens of deaths worthy of investigation and few concrete answers, could not prove he had done anything wrong. Word of their suspicions went no further than the State Nursing Board, which said that under the circumstances, it could not tell anyone that questions had ever been raised about him.

Mr. Cullen went to work at two other hospitals in the next few months without word of his past accompanying him.

The most sustained look at Mr. Cullen, when his suspected murder spree might have been stopped, was in the middle of last year. Yet the hospitals and public agencies that looked into him then, like those that encountered him throughout his career, say they were defeated by a system that lacks a way to spread the word about medical professionals suspected of misdeeds, and by hospitals and government agencies that are unwilling to do so.

If you're looking a concrete example of how lawsuit abuse has caused real damage and actually killed people look no further. I have experienced this first hand in a minor way; the company I work for strictly forbids me to make any sort of recommendation for my employees should they leave -- positive or negative. Call for a background check on someone who claims to have worked for us and you will get dates of employment, that's it. If someone left under certain investigation of say, embezzlement for example, I couldn't tell anybody. In my case, that hurts you if you call me because I can't tell you if the guy you are about to hire is a crook or not. I also can't tell you about the wonderful qualities of an employee who, say, had to relocate for family reasons. The only benefit from this nonsense is that my company is insulated from insane lawsuits. Well, now the insane lawsuits have blatantly come home to roost. It would be perfect irony if one of his victims was an ambulance chasing lawyer. I think the families of the victims should initiate a class action lawsuit against the American Bar Association.

But wait there's this:
A nurse who claims he killed up to 40 of his patients and was charged with administering a fatal dose of a drug to a Roman Catholic priest has voluntarily surrendered his New Jersey nurse's license, authorities said Wednesday.


"If Mr. Cullen had not agreed to surrender his license, the Board of Nursing was prepared to act on its own," said Reni Erdos, director of the Division of Community Affairs, which oversees the licensing of nurses.

Bet he was just quaking with fear about that.