Kentucky Nurse Charged With Murder for Allegedly Injecting Senior With Unprescribed Ativan, Leading to His Death

A Kentucky grand jury indicted a nurse on a murder charge this week after an investigation determined she injected an elderly patient with “something special” while he was agitated, ultimately causing his death.

Lexington police say the May 5 death of 97-year-old James Morris at Baptist Health Lexington was “a direct result” of the actions of Eyvette Hunter, 52, the Lexington Herald Ledger reported.

The state Board of Nursing issued an immediate suspension order for Hunter’s license.

According to the board’s order, Morris was agitated and aggressive in the hospital on April 30, prompting Hunter to ask for medication to calm him. The request was denied, the order says, and Hunter reportedly took a vial of lorazepam meant for another patient and was seen a few minutes later with a syringe in Morris’s room, where she “proceeded to administer something intravenously.” Another hospital employee saw Hunter give something to Morris and asked what it was. “Something special,” Hunter allegedly said, according to the suspension order.

Morris became sedated after the injection. Lorazepam, brand name Ativan, is used to relieve anxiety and works by slowing brain activity, the Herald Ledger said.

The patient was later found with labored breathing and his oxygen saturation equipment shut down.

“It was determined that Respondent had disarmed/lowered the oxygen monitoring system several times as to not set off an alarm at the bedside,” the Board of Nursing said.

Morris aspirated on food or medicine given him while he was under the effects of the lorazepam and, as a result, development pneumonia. He was put into hospice care on May 3.

“Despite the rapidly declining condition of the patient, Respondent never called for rapid response nor acted with any sense of urgency,” the Board of Nursing said in its order. “Respondent did however edit documentation of administration of Ativan on ‘patient B’ to state ‘not given.’”

Hunter later admitted giving Morris Ativan without an order, the board said, “as well as, subsequently feeding him.”

Baptist Health said that Hunter was fired on April 30 and reported to the Board of Nursing. But WKYT reported that she continued to work in a hospital until her arrest on Tuesday. She was placed at the University of Kentucky Hospital, where she worked as a travel nurse, by a healthcare staffing agency, which was responsible for paying her, hospital officials said. UK Hospital said it “immediately released her from her duties upon learning of the suspension and indictment.”

The staffing agency did not respond to a request for comment.

The state Attorney General’s office referred the case in July to Lexington police, which launched a criminal investigation, the Herald-Ledger said. Court records say she is being held on a $100,000 bond.

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[Featured image: Eyvette Hunter/Fayette County Detention Center]