A King County licensed practical nurse has been suspended after a 3-year-old boy with Down syndrome died during his overnight care. According to charges, the nurse failed to properly connect a breathing machine, and muted or turned off the alarm.
A King County licensed practical nurse has been suspended, effective immediately, after a 3-year-old boy with Down syndrome died during his overnight care.
Fernando Enrique Nunez-Mesta, 68, allegedly failed to properly connect a breathing machine the child used during sleep last November, and muted or turned off the alarm that would have alerted the nurse to respiratory distress, according to the statement of charges prepared by a consultant for the state Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.
Medical officials said the actions were a direct cause of the child’s death.
A spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the case has not been referred for criminal charges.
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Nunez-Mesta, who was first licensed in 2005, worked for Maxim Healthcare, a nationwide provider of in-home care services, state health officials said.
In an emailed statement, Maxim spokeswoman Rebecca Kirkham wrote, “We are deeply saddened by the death of this child and our hearts go out to the family.”
She said the company is cooperating with investigators.
Nunez-Mesta has 20 days to contest the charges and suspension.
The incident occurred after Nunez-Mesta took over care of the child at about 11 p.m. Nov. 16. At 12:44 a.m. on Nov. 17, he noticed the child was blue and not breathing, the statement of charges says. Nunez-Mesta did not call 911 or start rescue efforts. Instead, he woke the child’s parents.
The parents saw the breathing equipment was turned off and the breathing tube was not attached. They tried to reattach the tube, but failed to do so, the documents state.
Nunez-Mesta eventually began CPR, but performed it on a soft surface, in violation of recommended practice, and ignored the mother’s request to put the child on the ground, the documents say.
The boy’s brother called 911. The child died later at a hospital.
Investigators determined that Nunez-Mesta repeatedly muted or turned off the alarm on the breathing equipment and didn’t know how to properly set it up.
The nursing commission charged Nunez-Mesta with unprofessional conduct and violations of nursing conduct or practice.