Iowa nurse surrenders her license after care-facility resident dies

By: - December 10, 2020 3:37 pm

Even in cases of “rampant” violations resulting in deaths at Iowa nursing homes, state and federal regulators say they imposed no penalties. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Board of Nursing)

An Iowa nurse who failed to attempt CPR on a care-facility resident who subsequently died has surrendered her license to the state.

The Iowa Board of Nursing said it reached an agreement with Marolee Miller of Manilla calling for her to surrender her license as an LPN, or licensed practical nurse. She will not be eligible for reinstatement for one year.

The board alleges that while working in a nursing home — the board does not identify the facility — on Christmas Eve, 2019, Miller was  with a resident who suddenly went limp, became unresponsive and showed no pulse. According to the board, Miller didn’t attempt CPR on the resident.

State inspection records show that a male resident of Manilla Manor care facility died under those same circumstances on the same day. The unidentified LPN who admitted she failed to perform CPR on the man told state inspectors that when the resident went limp she “physically froze up and couldn’t think.”

She allegedly reported that none of the other four employees who were present at the time attempted CPR, either. Two nurse aides and the director of nursing confirmed that for inspectors, adding that no one in the home had called 911, either. A registered nurse practitioner at the home told inspectors that just a few days before the incident the man had indicated he wanted CPR performed if he was in cardiac arrest. The man was not in hospice care at the time and was not believed to be at risk of dying anytime in the next six months, according to state records.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals proposed a $10,000 state fine as a result of the incident, but the fine was held in suspension and was not imposed, according to DIA records. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports no federal fine was imposed for the incident, either.

Other recent actions by the Iowa Board of Nursing include:

  • The board suspended the license of Sarah King of Waukon for an indefinite period pending the completion of a drug dependency and mental health evaluation. King was accused of misappropriating “numerous” narcotics intended for a resident of the care facility where she worked from 2015 through September 2018. The board does not identify the care facility in its public filings.
  • The board placed on probation the license of Laura Bunten of Council Bluffs, who was accused of taking money from a resident of the care facility where she worked from December 2017 through June 2019. Board records do not identify the facility where the alleged theft took place or the amount of money involved. However, the Midlands Living Center of Council Bluffs reports that Bunten’s dates of employment there match those of the care facility referenced by the board. State inspections records indicate the alleged theft resulted in no deficiencies or citations against the facility.
  • The board placed on probation the license of Jennifer Evins, who was accused of stealing the medication of a resident at the care facility where she worked in August 2019. Court records indicate Evins was arrested on Aug. 20, 2019 for third-offense drunken driving and for unlawful possession of a prescription drug. Her arrest report indicates that while being booked on the drunken driving charge, officers found in her pocket the drug Lorazepam, which was prescribed to Margaret Adams, then a resident of Lutheran Living Senior Campus in Muscatine where Evins worked. Evins pleaded guilty to second-offense drunken driving and unlawful possession of a prescription drug.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.