By: Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq:
This case represents all that is bad in the medical profession. Sloppiness, inattention, carelessness, and possible criminal conduct, by a nurse that used the same syringe to inoculate over 60 healthy people with the flu vaccine. Is this criminal? There are many NJ criminal law statutes that could apply to a case like this. The only issue really is if the prosecutor wants to bring them. Deterrence is a factor all prosecutors should be thinking of. Here, patients now need to wait 6 months to be tested to see if they contracted Hepatitis, AIDS, and/or other diseases. And clearly, any nurse knows that this practice is unacceptable.
Think about it if this were you. For 6 months of sleepless nights, you have to wonder if you are infected with a disease that could kill you, make your spouse a widow, and leave your children without a parent. People that know you will probably become reticent to have the quality of contact with you that they initially had, not knowing if they could be infected as well. It is easy to see this kind of thing in a dispassionate way, but to those that are dealing with it, it is very real.
So is the fact, that many that want flu shots (like I had yesterday) may be reticent to do so with a practice that makes people uneasy about their health care providers. This conduct is completely unacceptable.
Now, I do not suggest that this woman be put in jail for life. With the crimes on the books (like simple assault, aggravated assault, and harassment), and there are many sentencing options for any New Jersey Prosecutor to employ from Pre-Trial Intervention and probation, to jail.
Likely, a Criminal Defense Attorney would have many valid arguments as to why prison is not the appropriate resolution. But, that does not mean that a charge to a lesser offense is not a viable alternative to prison. However, if someone dies from this reckless conduct the charges could be increased to manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter, and possibly murder. Manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter only require “reckless conduct” and a resulting death. To me, there is no question this conduct is reckless.
So the question becomes whether the prosecutor should pursue this for its deterrent effect, or not. What are your thoughts?
See the article on NJ.Com where Bob Bianchi is quoted: http://www.nj.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2015/10/can_the_nurse_who_re-used_vaccine_syringes_be_char.html
© 2015 Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq.