A student nurse in Brazil, Rejane Moreira Telles, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter following a fatal mistake. Telles allegedly injected coffee and milk into an 80-year-old patient’s IV drop by mistake.
According to Medical Daily, the patient, Palmerina Pires Ribeiro, died last week following the incident which occurred at a clinic in São João de Meriti, located in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The nurse who was responsible for placing the coffee and milk into the IV drip spoke to Brazilian TV Globo’s Fantastico following formal charges. In the interview Telles notes that “anyone can get confused.”
“As they [the feed and blood drips] were next to each other, anyone can get confused. I injected the coffee and I put it in the wrong place.”
The L.A. Fox affiliate notes that Telles did admit that she knew the risks before administering the feed. However, she says the incident is not her fault as she had not been trained to perform the procedure. In fact, at the time of the incident, Telles only had three days of experience in the clinic. Telles is not the only member of the medical staff in trouble — two nurses and another student have been indicted for manslaughter as well.
According to the reporters from Globo’s Fantastico, doctors said that the milky coffee would have gone directly to the elderly woman’s heart and lungs. Unfortunately, it appears that Ribeiro’s death would not have been peaceful. Dr. Armando Carreir, a nutritional specialist at the Federal University of Fluminens’ Hospital Antonio Pedro, said it would have been as if she was suffocating. The body would have tried to expel the coffee and milk from the body and sent the liquid directly to the lungs. At this point, the lungs would have began to fill with liquid and the patient would slowly suffocate to death.
The victim’s daughter, Loreni Ribeiro, said that she was in the room when the deadly IV injection occurred.
“I saw my mother was agitated, she opened her mouth, and this youngster put coffee with milk into the veins of my mother. Half a glass.”
Though medication errors are common in hospitals, this case highlights the importance of proper training and supervision when dealing with new medical staff.
What do you think? Is Telles guilty of involuntary manslaughter for placing the coffee and milk mixture into the IV drip instead of the feeding tube? Or is the clinic to blame for improper training?