Print

RN Jobs >> Browse Articles >> Scandals

+5

Nurse to Stand Trial in Boy's Morphine Death

Nurse to Stand Trial in Boy's Morphine Death

Jack Braubaker / Lancaster New Era

December 02, 2008

Joy O’Shea Woomer, a licensed practical nurse, will stand trial on a charge that she administered a lethal dose of morphine to an 11-year-old East Hempfield Township boy more than six years ago.

But no one knows how much morphine was in the boy’s body or whether other drugs found in the body also may have been at toxic levels.

The 49-year-old Woomer, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, was relieved of her handcuffs during a preliminary hearing before District Judge David Brian Monday.

The handcuffs were returned after Brian ordered the nurse to stand trial in the death of Brent Weaver, who had cerebral palsy. He was the son of Mark and Carol Weaver.

Two months ago, police charged Woomer with homicide and two felony drug charges. She has been held in Lancaster County Prison since then.

Woomer was caring for the boy at his home when he died on the night of Sept. 26-27, 2002. His parents were both asleep upstairs and Woomer was the sole caregiver in the boy’s downstairs bedroom, according to testimony at the 2½ hour hearing.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross verified that his autopsy of the boy’s body had found “acute morphine intoxication.”

But under close questioning by defense attorney Chris Patterson, Ross acknowledged that he did not know how much morphine was in the body or how it was introduced to the body.

When Patterson expressed surprise that the doctor had not determined the amount of morphine after six years, Ross said, “Whatever the level of morphine in this boy should never have been in him at all.”

Patterson asked if Ross had found other substances in the body.

Ross said there were two.

The first, succinylcholine, is an indigenous chemical in the body, Ross said. He said he does not know whether the amount of succinylcholine in the boy’s body was “indigenous or not.”

Ross said the other chemical, rocuronium, would have had to have been introduced to the body. He said he does not know if it was at a toxic level.

Much of the testimony related to how Woomer handled her job of caring for Brent Weaver from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the day of his death.

Carol Weaver, dressed in a black suit, said Woomer was a substitute nurse whom she had met only once before.

She said she and her husband were asleep at 6 a.m. when Woomer came halfway up the stairs to the second floor calling out to them that Brent was not responding.

“I ran downstairs,” Weaver said. “I said, ‘What do you mean he’s not responding?’ I didn’t know what she meant.”

Emergency personnel were called but could not revive the boy.


+5
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 4 years ago

    76 comments

    trial starts january 4, 2010

    update: www.lipnews.com
    go to "in the court!"

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    web link:

    Nurse held in boy's killing seeks bail (Lancaster Online)

    http://www.nursetv.com/forum/nurses-40199-0.html

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    asking for bail

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    oops

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    her blog:

    Woomer vocation was "churching" not "nursing."

    She decided to do nursing at night to pursue her church activities by day.

    Biographical Sketch � Introducing Joy O’Shea

    http://joyoshearesume.wordpress.com/about-joy-her-family/

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    probably, succs and vec were given during Intubaton in the ER.

    EMS team took the child to the hospital, Lancaster General Hospital.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dizzylizzy

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    he also had succs and vec in his system-both paralytics.that's enough there to kill him. Was there and order for that? was he on a vent? or did medics introduce that? or did the nurse try and intubate? where did those meds come from? there is a lot more to this story.. was the morphine brought into the house by the nurse..and why was it brought in? if she had a problem and it was her private stash, why would she share?hmmmmmmm

  • Tammy_christmas_2002_max50

    Trkrantz

    over 5 years ago

    44 comments

    That is pretty sad that a nurse would do something like that. But what I don't understand is, is how the medical examiner wouldn't know how much morphine was in the boy's body from doing the autopsy and toxicology screen.

  • 12-27-2008_3_01_53_pm_max50

    dereshperez

    over 5 years ago

    10 comments

    Wow. I read both articles. I wish I could hear the nurses account. The parents say that the boy was fine when he went to sleep, but what does the nurse think. Were the childs resp decreased, was the child lethargic? So many questions.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    fyi

    web link:

    LancasterOnline.com: Woman charged in morphine death agrees to give up nursing license - TalkBack

    http://talkback.lancasteronline.com/index.php?showtopic=85124

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    web link:
    State of PA

    joy o'shea woomer, LPN-

    Voluntary surrender her nursing license

    http://www.licensepa.state.pa.us/Details.aspx?agency_id=1&license_i...&

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rachelpach

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I feel sorry for this nurse (and the child). If I were her, I would quit nursing after this crap.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    data-Morphine

    "Morphine toxicity may result from overdosage but because of the great inter-individual variation in sensitivity to opioids it is difficult to determine an EXACT dose of any opioid that is toxic or lethal.

    The presence of pain or tolerance tends to diminish the toxic effects of morphine. Published data suggest that in a morphine naive, pain-free individual, the lethal dose would be in EXCESS of 120mg. Patients on chronic oral morphine therapy have been known to take in excess of 3000mg/day with no apparent toxicity."

    http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/Datasheet/r/ramorphsol.htm

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TartarSauce

    over 5 years ago

    76 comments

    red FLAG..

    the child was allergic to codeine/morphine.
    the nurse didn't know.

    hmm,

    getting a medical history of your patient always includes knowing the allergies of the patient?

    did the nurse get an ORAL report on this child? we don't know!
    *****************************************

    "Weaver said the family kept no morphine in the house. She also said Brent was allergic to morphine and codeine — something the family discovered when he was hospitalized."

    She said she did not tell Woomer about these allergies.

    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:j3kEZt9FRSIJ:articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/230894

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    zap360

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Too many questions to be able to come to a decision. Morphine has a half life of 2 hours! It is the treatment of choice for pain relief for children with CP. It does not seem possible that a toxic level of Morphine in the liver could happen after 1 dose. Where is the syringe? What was the Morphine level? This just does not add up to me. I hope the nurse has a good lawyer who will look into some of these unknowns before this is given to a jury.

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.