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Neo-natal Nurse Taped Pacifier to Infant's Mouth

Neo-natal Nurse Taped Pacifier to Infant's Mouth

The State

May 08, 2009

Dukes’ job in the intensive care unit entails dealing with babies who have improved enough to transfer from critical care. She worked under the supervision of nursing supervisors and physicians, Smith said.

The hospital is reviewing its neonatal cases as it normally does when it learns of unusual occurrences, she said, adding she does not know how many cases are to be examined or how long the review will take.

Palmetto Health policy does not bar any employee from becoming a foster parent, she said.

Pediatric nurses are highly skilled and generally work in that field because of their love of children, said Judy Thompson, director of the S.C. Nurses Association.

“You are dealing with the most fragile of the fragile,” Thompson said. “This is a very, very needy population.”

For that reason, Curtis’ death has affected even a veteran death investigator.

“I am very dismayed by this,” said Clay Nichols, Richland County’s medical examiner who did the autopsy and has been a pathologist for 24 years.

A nurse skilled enough to work in a hospital with vulnerable children should be especially knowledgeable of the dangers of taping anything over an infant’s mouth, Nichols said.

He likened taping the pacifier to “putting a plastic bag over a child’s head.”

“I want to quit being surprised and hurt,” Nichols said. “But this hurts me to my soul.”

Dukes remains in the Richland County jail under $250,000 bail.

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