A southern Indiana nurse has been charged with practicing medicine without a license for allegedly removing a nursing home resident's oxygen mask hours before he died from COVID-19 last year.
Connie Sneed, 52, was charged Thursday with the felony, which in Indiana carries a potential penalty of one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Authorities began investigating the man's April 2020 death at a nursing home in Clarksville, Indiana, after learning that Sneed wrote in a social media post that she had asked the man if he wanted her to remove his oxygen mask so he could “fly with the angels."
In that Facebook post, Sneed called her alleged actions, “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in 28 years," according to an inspection report from the Indiana Department of Health.
The man, who was a resident at Wedgewood Healthcare Center, had been struggling after days of aggressive oxygen treatment for COVID-19, according to investigators. Sneed wrote in her Facebook post that she saw him repeatedly try to take off his oxygen mask when she approached him and asked if he wanted her to remove it, according to the report.
“I asked him on day 4 if he’s tired he said yes I said do you want me to take all this off for you and let you go and fly with the angels and he said yes," she wrote. “I took it all off for him I went in the hallway and cried and I let him go he passed away 1 hour and 45 minutes after I left.”
The man received no additional treatment and died nearly eight hours later, the report states.
Reached by telephone on Friday morning, Sneed told The Indianapolis Star, “I have no comment.” She said she has an attorney but would not provide a name. Online court records do not list an attorney representing her.
Sneed is a licensed practical nurse with an active license, according to the state’s online licensing database.
In a May 2020 interview with state inspectors, Sneed confirmed that she had removed the man’s oxygen. She said she’d had a “terrible” week and was caring for more than 40 COVID-19 patients at the nursing home when she forgot to notify the resident’s physician of the man's decline.
Sneed also told inspectors that the man’s daughter had told her “if it was her father’s wishes she could remove the mask.”
Sneed, who had worked at the nursing home for 15 years, was terminated May 6, 2020, when it was determined she had violated the nursing home's policy and standard nursing practice by both administering and then removing the oxygen.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said he received a report from the Indiana Attorney General’s office last week that resulted in the charge being filed Thursday against Sneed.
“After reviewing the results of the investigation it was my conclusion that this nurse was not justified in removing this man’s oxygen without consulting with and getting the permission of the supervising physician,” Mull told the News and Tribune.
Source: Associated Press