(CHILLICOTHE, Ohio) — A home hospice nurse who disposed of blood-soaked sheets and towels after a patient’s accidental death was sentenced today for tampering with evidence.
Judge Michael Ater of the Ross County Court of Common Pleas sentenced Karen Montgomery to 60 days in jail and five years of probation. A jury found her guilty of the third-degree felony charge on Feb. 15 following a two-day trial.
On April 25, 2017, Montgomery accidentally severed a patient’s central catheter line while attempting to remove medical dressings with scissors. Video evidence from the camera in the home shows her actions following the cutting of the line and the subsequent passing of the patient.
Attorney General Dave Yost’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit assisted the Ross County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office during their investigation.
“This is a tough case to prosecute, but people need to be held accountable,” Yost said. “Hats off to Ross County Prosecutor Jeffrey Marks and his office for doing their duty to reach a just result.”
“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case,” said Marks, whose assistant prosecutor Carrie Charles prosecuted the case. “The facts and circumstances surrounding the patient’s death were unfortunate and complicated. Through the hard work of multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, Ms. Montgomery has been held responsible for the portions of her conduct which were criminal in nature.”
Montgomery documented that she had clamped the line in an effort to stop the bleeding, but the recording supports testimony that she waited until after the patient had died to apply the clamp. Instead of calling 911, she contacted coworkers at Heartland Hospice. When they arrived at the home, items around the patient’s body – including bloody sheets and towels – had been gathered.
In addition, Montgomery wrote in her hospice notes that she had notified the coroner’s office as required for unusual deaths. However, testimony revealed that another Heartland employee notified the coroner’s office a day after the patient’s death. As a result, the patient’s death certificate initially listed a natural cause of death. The death was later ruled an accident caused by hemorrhagic shock, a result of severe blood loss.