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Nurses Admit Elder Abuse In Nursing Home Death

Jun 28, 2004 | Lassen County News Two former nurses at a Susanville nursing facility entered guilty pleas last week to charges of elder abuse in the death of Alfred Eilts, 87.

On Tuesday, June 22 in Lassen County Superior Court, Former SunBridge Nursing Director Angela Tinsley, of Susanville, pled guilty to felony elder abuse. The same day, Assistant Nursing Director Carla Delgado, also of Susanville, pled guilty to misdemeanor elder abuse.

Charges of manslaughter and causing great bodily injuring were dismissed. Each waived her appeal rights. They allegedly failed to report mis-medication in Eilts' death on Friday, Jan. 7, 2002.

According to a release by the district attorney's office, Eilts was mistakenly given his roommate's anti-seizure medication on Friday evening Jan. 5, 2002. Court records said they handled the medication distribution themselves because of a staffing problem.

The nurses failed to report the mis-medication, contrary to SunBridge policy, to the unnamed physician in charge until after the death of Eilts on Monday, Jan. 7, 2002.

At a recent preliminary hearing, defense attorneys and expert witnesses questioned whether the mis-medication actually killed Eilts.

"That was always an issue," District Attorney Bob Burns said on Friday, June 23. "The trial would have related to whether it actually caused his death or not."

According to a June 11 letter from Tinsley's attorney, the anti-seizure medication may have contributed to Eilts' death by making him sleepy or causing him to miss meals.

However, the letter said Tinsley looked in on Eilts repeatedly and he seemed to be doing fine. The next day Eilts told Delgado he was OK.

"Believing Eilts was back to normal, Tinsley decided to wait to tell the doctor about the error until the next morning," the letter said.

Arriving Monday morning, she was told he died earlier in the day.

The case was referred to probation for a pre-sentence report. Burns said the defense attorneys indicated to the court they will apply for some kind of community service.

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