New Jersey Nurse Charged With Killing Terminally Ill Patient

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An Ocean County, N.J. nurse was charged with murder Monday for allegedly giving a terminally ill heart patient a paralyzing drug in 2007, causing his death.

A Monmouth County grand jury indicted Lorie Hentges, 39, of Brick, on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the April 14, 2007 death of Alvin Flamenbaum, 72, of Toms River.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin said the murder is alleged to have occurred in the cardio-thoracic intensive care unit of Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Flamenbaum had a long history of heart disease and had undergone numerous surgeries. On March 19, 2007, he was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

On March 27, the prosecutor said, he underwent a cardiac surgical procedure and remained hospitalized at Jersey Shore until April 12, 2007, when he was transferred to a cardiac rehabilitation center in Wall Township.

Late that evening, Flamenbaum complained of shortness of breath and other symptoms, and paramedics were called to take him back to the hospital. En route there, he stopped breathing.

At the hospital, he was placed on a respirator, and his family decided to withdraw lifesaving measures when his condition was diagnosed as terminal.

But after being taken off the respirator, Flamenbaum started breathing on his own, Valentin said.

On April 14, a nurse who was primarily responsible for Flamenbaum's care returned from a lunch break to find Hentges in Flamenbaum's room. Shortly afterward, his vital signs worsened and he died.

An autopsy listed the cause of death as the acute effects of an unprescribed paralytic drug, and the case was classified as a homicide.