Pushing Up Lilies

Bad Nurses That Use And Abuse Their Power

Episode Summary

In this riveting episode, we explore the dark underbelly of healthcare. Let's delve into the unsettling world of nurses who wield their power for malevolent purposes, focusing on a specific and disturbing method: insulin overdoses. Join me as I draw on my extensive experience to dissect various cases where nurses, entrusted with the well-being of their patients, turned into perpetrators of heinous crimes. Throughout the episode, I share profound insights into hospital policies, shedding light on the loopholes that allow such abuse to occur. This unfiltered exploration serves as an eye-opener into the insidious realm of healthcare gone awry, as I navigate through chilling instances where trust is betrayed and the healing profession takes a sinister turn. Strap in for a compelling narrative as we unravel the stories of bad nurses that use and abuse their power, offering a unique perspective from my role as a forensic death investigator. Listener discretion is advised.

Episode Notes


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Episode Transcription

0:06 Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies.

0:08 I'm your host, Julie Mattson.

0:10 Pushing Up Lilies is a weekly True Crime podcast with spine tingling, unusual and terrifyingly true stories from my perspective as a forensic death investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner.

0:24 Do I have some stories for you?

0:26 Are you ready?

0:31 Hey, guys, I wanted to let you know before I went over this week's podcast that I was a guest on another podcast that's put on by another nurse.

0:44 It's called Good Nurse, Bad Nurse.

0:46 I was the Good Nurse surprise.

0:49 We talked a little bit about my career in forensic nursing and we discussed my career as a sexual assault nurse examiner as well as a death investigator and went into a little bit about what I do.

1:06 I introduced my podcast to her followers and then we talked about a case of a forensic nurse.

1:16 He was actually working in a prison, an all-female prison and had actually been sexually assaulting women in the prison and using the fact that they were there for drug use against them by telling them that because they had a history of drug abuse, no one would believe them when they told them that he was abusing them.

1:41 This went on for quite some time.

1:43 He was eventually convicted and got 30 years in prison.

1:49 Tina, the host who is amazing by the way, and I discussed how this could possibly happen in a situation like this and why it happened for so long.

2:02 And so it's a very interesting podcast.

2:05 I love for y'all to take a listen to it.

2:08 It's good nurse, bad Nurse available on all the different platforms.

2:13 The host Tina is amazing.

2:14 I had a wonderful time talking to her and I can't wait to do it again.

2:19 And I will also have her as a guest on my podcast soon.

2:22 Hopefully, we are going to arrange that for sure.

2:26 But doing this podcast with her kind of reminded me of the episodes that I did last year on bad nurses.

2:37 And basically, there is a case that happened recently in Pennsylvania.

2:41 And I'm not even sure if everyone's aware of it because surprisingly, I had not heard of it.

2:46 It was an RN in Pennsylvania who worked a night shift, and she would slip into her patients' rooms at night and secretly give them insulin.

2:57 These deaths were caused by Heather Presty, who was 41 years old, and they went undetected for three years.

3:07 She was arrested after two men died from overdoses in December of 2022 and another man who she overdosed ultimately survived, but it is believed that insulin injections were linked to the deaths of at least 17 additional patients besides the two men and the one that she overdosed that survived.

3:34 These crimes were committed at five Western Pennsylvania Care facilities.

3:41 It started back in 2020.

3:44 I know that we've talked in the past again about nurses who feel the need to kill their patients because they feel sorry for them and feel like they have no quality of life that is not a nurse's or anyone's decision to make.

4:00 And I think that most of us who are normal and think like normal people will all agree to that.

4:06 But it drives me crazy that people think that they have the right to decide when does it makes no sense to me, especially why someone who spent years in nursing school and went to the trouble to get their RN license would kill people and risk being put in prison and losing their career that they worked so hard for.

4:32 I had read, and I don't know if this is 100% true, but I had read that a lot of people she worked with were leery of her and didn't like working with her.

4:44 If there is anyone listening that knows her, went to school with her high school, nursing school, knows her at all or even worked with her recently would like to be interviewed for the podcast.

4:58 I would love to hear from you.

5:00 I would just love to hear what concerned people about her attitude or her actions, what she was doing that made people leery of working with her.

5:12 It also kind of amazes me that many nurses who commit these crimes think that they'll never get caught.

5:19 Hospitals keep pretty darn good records of who's working what shift and who cares for what patient eventually it's going to start looking super suspicious if all of your patients are dying and everyone else's are fine and end up getting discharged without any incident.

5:37 It looks very suspicious.

5:40 A lot of the medication dispensary machines are monitored by camera now.

5:47 And I'm sure you remember the case of the nurse here in Texas that I told you about where we caught him on camera.

5:54 Actually taking a handful of prefilled Benadryl syringes is out of the medication machine and putting him in his pocket.

6:03 And that's one way that he was actually convicted when he would slip Benadryl into people's IV’s and sexually assault them after he put them to sleep.

6:15 Basically with the Benadryl, there are cameras in place that can catch things like that and many of you don't know.

6:23 But when you're admitted to the hospital, your doctor orders a specific group of medications, those are written on what we call a medication administration record, which is mar for short, you cannot be given anything while you're in the hospital that is not on your mar that is not ordered by your doctor.

6:45 And so if you have a problem arise like nausea and you need new medication, your doctor has to be called, a verbal order has to be obtained.

6:54 And then that new medication is written on your mar as well as the dosage and the frequency that kind of keeps you from being medicated with something that you shouldn't have something that's not ordered or being given a medication too often because the nurses always put the time, they give it last and their initials back when I first graduated.

7:19 And of course, I don't work in a hospital setting anymore.

7:22 But when I first graduated, we always had to have insulin checked with two nurses at all times because of how dangerous the drug could be when it was time for someone who was diabetic to get their insulin.

7:38 Two nurses had to view the syringe with the correct amount of insulin in it and they both had to initial off on the medication before it was administered to the patient.

7:51 There have always been in the past, failed safe ways to keep patients from being given a medication that they weren't ordered or keep a nurse from giving too much insulin, because it can kill you whether you're diabetic or not, insulin can kill you. Presty actually stands, accused of administering excessive amounts of insulin to 22 patients.

8:20 Again, some of them were diabetic, some needed it but not the dosage that she gave them, she would give them maybe instead of four units, she would give them 100 and 20 units.

8:33 Others did not need the drug at all.

8:35 Others did not have it ordered.

8:37 She was disciplined or fired from a dozen places over her career before she started working at Quality Laugh Services, which is a facility in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

8:50 Now the victim she was charged with initially in December when her antics were discovered were a 55-year-old man and an 83-year-old man.

9:03 They both died one on December 4th and one on December 25th.

9:09 The victim who survived was a 73-year-old who was given a potentially lethal dose of insulin.

9:18 And that occurred back in August on the 31st in 2022.

9:25 This had gone on since 2020 but it was not found until these three incidences in 2022.

9:34 Now, the deaths all occurred at Concordia at Rebecca Residence, Bel Air Health Care and rehabilitation.

9:43 Premier Armstrong, rehabilitation and nursing center, sunny view, rehabilitation, and nursing center and Quality Life services.

9:55 Of the 22 mistreated people who had been in her care, 17 died shortly after the dose was given and another died months later.

10:06 Now all of her victims ranged from ages of 43 to 104 and four of them survived.

10:15 One thing that saddens me about this the most is that number one, she decided how long these people were going to live, she obviously felt like they should not ever go home or ever get better.

10:30 The sad thing is a lot of them probably had dementia.

10:33 They're not even going to know that she injected them.

10:36 And if they realized it, they're not going to remember it.

10:41 It's really sad again that any nurse would take advantage of a patient's disability or illness and use that to their advantage and then just decide how long they're going to live.

10:55 I think that's very, very unfair.

10:58 And I think it is very sad that she preyed mostly on the elderly.

11:04 43 is not old but 104, like, why would you do that?

11:10 It's not your right to decide that they don't have the quality of life that you think they should have before I go into the people that are involved.

11:21 I want to talk a little bit about what too much insulin can do to your body and kind of what occurs when that happens.

11:29 The cells in your body will absorb too much glucose from your blood.

11:37 When you get insulin, your liver releases less glucose, and it creates dangerously low glucose levels in your blood.

11:48 There are several different levels of symptoms that you can experience after you've been given insulin, the mild symptoms are going to be trembling.

11:59 Someone may be very anxious and uneasy, sweating mostly in the forehead, but a lot of sweating, they may have a fast or pounding, strong heart rate and also cravings, they're going to crave sweets because their body knows that that's what it needs, it needs sugar.

12:22 Examples of moderate symptoms are going to be dizziness.

12:26 You're going to have maybe a bit of a headache, be a little irritable, which we all are anyway, when we're in the hospital and we're not feeling good.

12:35 Right.

12:36 And difficulty focusing severe symptoms is when you start experiencing disorientation where you don't recognize people, you may not know where you are or what time it is or what day it is.

12:54 Many times, again, if you go to assess an elderly person, say at the beginning of your shift who has dementia, they're going to be disoriented anyway.

13:03 It's going to be harder to detect those severe symptoms of insulin overdose in those elderly individuals.

13:12 They may also have unclear speech, which is also going to be a possibility if they're elderly and have dementia or Alzheimer's and they're going to be clumsy, which we may not even see because a lot of these people don't get up out of bed and try to walk around.

13:30 We're not going to see them stumble, they may complain of blurry or double vision.

13:36 Again, we sometimes have nonverbal patients that are this old, these are all nursing home and rehabilitation centers where again, people are not, well and most are probably elderly or if they're young, have a lot of really serious mismanaged medical problems that have just made it difficult for them to improve their health.

14:04 Blurry or double vision is another symptom of severe insulin overdose.

14:10 Now, critical symptoms are going to be seizures, or someone is unconscious or go into a coma or eventually death, which is what we saw in these cases.

14:24 Again, she would administer this insulin during the night shift, which is when staffing is low, there is mostly no administration at the hospital on evening shifts, there's not as much action going on.

14:42 You don't really need as much staff.

14:44 It's relatively quiet, you just don't need as much staff.

14:49 She had the ability to kind of lay low when all this was happening.

14:55 She admitted to harming with intent to kill.

14:59 She was charged with first degree murder in cases where the physical evidence is available.

15:07 I mean, you can't really accuse her if you don't have any evidence like an elevated insulin level that was done on autopsy to back up the possibility if the doctor did an autopsy and did not rule it to be an insulin overdose.

15:26 And that was not determined by the medical examiner, she could not be charged with those deaths either.

15:34 The only ones that she was charged with were the ones where physical evidence was available.

15:41 Attempted murder can be charged in cases where the victims survived and there was physical evidence.

15:49 Her license was only issued in 2018.

15:53 She hadn't even had it for five years.

15:55 I mean, she started killing people two years after she got her nursing license, but it was suspended in July of 2023.

16:04 This was all very, very recent.

16:08 She had made some disturbing comments on her cell phone regarding the murders.

16:15 She texted her mom on September 6th of 2022, and she complained about a male resident who was yelling, and she made the comment that she drugged him and didn't know how he was possibly still awake.

16:30 Her mom had a clue for sure about her lack of compassion, I guess you could say for her patients early on, she also told her mom on Christmas of 22 that one of her patients was going to get pillow therapy.

16:50 I know that in a lot of cases in the hospital, sometimes you get a little fed up and a little aggravated and you're on edge when you're busy and you're stressed but you never threaten pillow therapy for one of your patients.

17:05 I mean, that's ridiculous that you would even think that's funny and send it in a text message to your mother, one woman who was involved in all this was actually taken to the ER with low blood sugar from the rehab center where she worked and she actually said that she looked at her like an animal.

17:27 I don't know what that means, I guess she's thinking like put it out of its misery type comment.

17:32 I'm not quite sure, but that doesn't even sound like something a normal person would say.

17:37 Much less an educated nurse.

17:40 Presty is 41 years old.

17:43 She was at Concordia between October 20th and April 21st.

17:49 I believe this would be in 2020.

17:52 She administered a lot of insulin way more than anybody should get again to patients who some were diabetic, and some were not.

18:04 She was assistant director of Nurses at Bel Air Health Care and Rehabilitation.

18:10 From April of 21 until February of 2022.

18:16 They said that the staff there had grown a little concerned, I guess over time when her patients continued to decline in August of 2021 a 58-year-old died at Bel Air.

18:30 It was due to low blood sugar or insulin overdose.

18:36 She admitted to giving her 60 units of insulin within two hours of her death.

18:43 On September 28th of 2021 there was a 68-year-old that she gave 100 units of insulin to who died.

18:52 Three hours later, November of 2021 a 79-year-old nondiabetic, someone who didn't even have insulin ordered.

19:02 That person died after being given 100 units in December of 2021 a 92-year-old nondiabetic died after 60 units.

19:15 We also have to remember that these little old people in their nineties are frailer too and they're going to respond even more to an overdose like this than someone in their forties and fifties in February of 2022 she gave 100 units to an 88 year old who ended up dying months later from complications.

19:38 Strangely enough, she was also an assistant director of Nursing at quality-of-life services.

19:46 Now, apparently their standards are not, not very high because I guess the last place she worked, it was never really reported.

19:56 Even though people were somewhat suspicious of her, they really didn't act on it.

20:02 May of 2022 she actually injected an 83-year-old who survived August 6th of 2022.

20:12 A 92-year-old died after 60 units was given during a seizure which made it easy for her to cover up brat.

20:20 It was easy for them to just say, oh, she had a seizure.

20:23 She had these medical problems, never suspected insulin, never suspected this nurse.

20:30 She goes to the funeral home; her nursing home doctor agrees to sign her death certificate and no questions are asked.

20:38 In November of 2022 she gave 60 units again to a 99-year-old.

20:44 Most of these are people in their eighties and nineties.

20:48 She worked at Premiere in December 22.

20:51 She gave a 90-year-old 60 units, and an 85 year old 60 units and they both died now she worked at Sunny View and this was just last year y'all.

21:03 This is not that long ago, and this has gone on for three years.

21:06 How ridiculous can you get?

21:08 Ok.

21:09 First thing I can say is if you suspect a coworker of killing patients, like you've got to say something to your supervisors, there is no way that no one was able to link these deaths to her before.

21:24 I mean, come on, you know who's working, you know what shift they're working, and you know what patients they're taking care of.

21:32 Now, at Sunny View in January, she gave 60 units to an 80-year-old.

21:38 March is when she killed the 104-year-old with 60 units.

21:43 Again in March, she killed two other people.

21:47 One was a 78-year-old that she gave a total of 120 units to and then the other one in March was someone that she gave insulin to.

21:58 And then in case that didn't work, she decided to flush his port, which is kind of like an IV in your chest with air.

22:06 Let's just put air in his lungs and kill him in case the insulin doesn't.

22:12 In April of 2023 she gave insulin and then air through a pick line which is kind of like a peripherally inserted central line in someone's arm if they're really hard to start an IV in.

22:27 This is an 82-year-old, and not only did she give them insulin as well, but she did inject air into this pick line to cause a pulmonary embolism and kill the person in case the insulin didn't, no doubt you can tell by her doing two different things to kill somebody.

22:46 She was becoming more and more desperate to make sure they were dead, and she probably would have gone to more measures and started doing other things to other people.

22:56 Had she not been caught when she was, I mean, this is basically not anything that a normal person would do.

23:10 You know, I'm kind of looking and I'm like she had so many jobs, like, seriously so many jobs in her five-year career, the fact that again she had been disciplined or fired from over a dozen places, who knows what her position was there.

23:28 Maybe she was a patient care tech or something like that.

23:31 I don't know the reason for all of those firings or disciplinary action.

23:36 I'm not really sure what was going on at that point, but just in the last three years, she worked at five different facilities.

23:45 That should give you a clue right there.

23:47 I mean, why are you job jumping?

23:50 What are you running from?

23:51 What are you doing that you shouldn't be doing?

23:53 What are you afraid you're going to get caught doing?

23:57 That's definitely something that should be an eye opener for any manager who is hiring a position, especially nurses, people who are trusted with people's lives and people who are responsible for making sure that people get better and not killing them.

24:18 Anyway, I felt like this story was just ridiculous.

24:21 And again, when I was talking to Tina about bad nurses, I thought, you know what this story recently, just really, it makes me mad that people take advantage of their power.

24:33 And it's just like the correctional nurse that we talked about in her podcast to use and abuse your power is sickening.

24:44 And there are a lot of ways to keep this from happening.

24:51 But obviously those failed.

24:54 Anything that hospitals can do to improve their care and improve their staff is good.

25:03 And we definitely want to make sure that that happens if somebody jumps jobs frequently, if they can't stay in one place and can't stay put and employees are leery of them and don't want to work with them.

25:18 You just got to realize that something's going on and put a stop to it because you can't tell me that no one thought she might have been doing this before she was caught.

25:29 I mean, there were too many people dying anyway.

25:32 Again, I would love to talk to anyone who knows her and anyone who especially has worked with her at any of these facilities and can shed some light on maybe what was going on.

25:48 What made people not want to work with her, how her attitude was how she acted professionally, which we all know that wasn't really professionally at all.

25:57 But if you know her and would like to be interviewed for the podcast, please let me know.

26:03 And again, anybody who has a story to tell, I would love to talk to you if you have a family member who was involved in a case or literally anything related to true crime or death that you want to discuss.

26:17 I would love to talk to you about the possibility of having you as a guest and talking about your experiences on the air.

26:25 We love to have new guests and we will soon have the ability for you to go online and schedule an appointment to talk remotely.

26:33 You don't have to come here, and I don't have to come there.

26:35 We can talk remotely from wherever you are and we and put you on the air.

26:40 That will be coming soon.

26:42 Also, we're looking for sponsors.

26:44 If you have a company that you are trying to advertise and would like to get the word out, we have thousands of viewers who would love to be exposed to new products and new product lines.

26:58 That would be an option too.

26:59 And that will also be on our website soon where you can sign up to be a sponsor.

27:05 I just want to say our weather's been beautiful here.

27:08 It has gotten much better.

27:10 This summer was brutal.

27:12 We're having like 80-degree days now.

27:15 And it's absolutely beautiful.

27:17 We'll be going to North Dakota, mid-December for my stepson's graduation from UND Aviation Academy.

27:23 I'm so proud of him.

27:25 Although the weather will be much, much different there.

27:27 I will be prepared.

27:28 I know how to pack.

27:30 I've been there several times since I met my husband and I've finally learned how to pack my bag so that I can be comfortable and not suffer while I'm there.

27:39 I hope that y'all have a amazing week and definitely look forward to talking to you next week.

27:46 Thank you so much for joining me today on Pushing Up Lilies.

27:50 If you like this podcast and would like to share with others.

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27:57 This helps to make the podcast more visible to the public.

28:00 Thanks again for spending your time with me and be sure to visit me at PushingUpLilies.com for merchandise and past episodes.