Earlier this month, a registered nurse from Muncie, Indiana lost her license after showing up to work at a hospital and three nursing homes smelling of alcohol.
The Indiana board of nursing revoked the license of Linda Bullinger, age 55, who has a history of alcohol problems dating back several years. In 2008, Bullinger received a suspension from her employer, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, after her coworkers reported that she came to work in the emergency unit glassy-eyed and smelling of alcohol. Two months later, she was terminated from her position after being arrested on the basis of driving drunk and resisting arrest.
However, Bullinger was soon back to work in 2009, when she began working at the Edgewater Woods nursing home after entering an agreement with the Indiana State Nurses Assistant Program to take part in a recovery monitoring program. Less than a year into the position, Bullinger was terminated for coming to work smelling of alcohol.
Bullinger got another nursing position with Miller's Merry Manor nursing home, but she was terminated in November 2013 after again showing up at work smelling of alcohol. Bullinger had been on probation for a DUI at the time, as well as for coming to work intoxicated and for not mentioning being terminated from Edgewater Woods at the time she renewed her license in 2009.
Bullinger then obtained yet another nursing position, this time at Parkview Nursing Center. She was terminated from that position this past March for having a blood alcohol level of 0.258 while on the job, over three times the legal limit for driving.
It is welcome to see the state finally take action to ensure that a nurse with an alcohol history is no longer working with a vulnerable senior population. However, it is equally shocking that it would take officials so long to take corrective action, while Bullinger continued to get nursing positions with relative ease. Even more concerning, Bullinger is not alone in her potentially dangerous behavior.
Another nurse, Sharon Lea Johnson, faces disciplinary action for not reporting that she had received a fine and was reprimanded by the nursing board in 2012, and for not reporting that she had previously received discipline in Texas when she applied for employment at Individual Support Home Health Agency in 2011. Johnson also allegedly abandoned a pediatric client in 2012. Johnson claimed that she had left him in the care of a "man" who claimed to be a family member, but she could not describe any of his features. The father later found his child alone and lying on the floor in wet diapers. For these actions, Johnson faces suspension or at least probation.
These stories could send chills down the spine of any family who has ever needed to rely on outside care for their loved ones. That is why any nursing home facility that provides the care ought to be held liable for any breach of its duty to these people and their families.
Miller & Falkner is an Indiana and Kentucky plaintiffs law firm. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. If you need a Kentucky or Indiana personal injury attorney, contact us today for a free consultation.