"Lethal Dose" Kills Patient During Lockout

Strike nurses to hold candlelight vigil for deceased patient Sunday at 7 p.m.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Monday, Sep 26, 2011  |  Updated 9:48 AM PDT
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Police are investigating the death of a patient at a hospital in the east bay that happened during a nursing strike. The hospital is now acknowledging that a medical error is to blame and that a replacement nurse was caring for the patient at the time. Monte Francis has the details

Police are investigating the death of a patient at a hospital in the east bay that happened during a nursing strike. The hospital is now acknowledging that a medical error is to blame and that a replacement nurse was caring for the patient at the time. Monte Francis has the details

A patient's death at Oakland's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center has sparked outcry by nurses who have been locked out of work since they hit the picket lines for a one-day strike Thursday.

Oakland police confirmed they are investigating the death of an unnamed female patient early Saturday morning who appears to have been given a lethal dose of medication.

The dose was reportedly given by a replacement nurse.

In response to the death, nurses have planned a candlelight vigil at the hospital Sunday night.
       
"We are calling on the Department of Public Health to carefully examine conditions in Sutter hospitals that have locked out RNs," CNA legislative director Bonnie Castillo said.

The California Nurses Association says Summit Hospital administrators locked out regularly employed nurses from returning to work Friday after a one-day strike by 23,000 nurses at Sutter, Kaiser Permanente and Children's hospitals on Thursday. One day strikes often end in lockouts because the replacement workers require a five day contract in order to fill in for the striking workers.
       
Oakland police did not say what the woman who died was being treated for other than to say she had been at the hospital since July.  OPD said, "responding Officers met with Coroner Deputies and hospital staff and were advised that a patient had died after being administered a non-prescribed dosage of a medication that is known to be lethal in the manner in which it was administered to the patient."

As for the original strike: unions have said the hospitals are seeking to roll back RN rights and limit nurses' input regarding patient care, in addition to cutting  benefits.

Sutter hospitals have countered by noting that nurses in the chain  are "among the highest compensated in the country," with the average nurse  there earning a $136,000 salary. Nurses dispute that salary amount.
 

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