ELLSWORTH, Wis. — A nurse in Wisconsin accused of amputating the foot of a dying man without his permission is no longer allowed to work as a caregiver, according to court records.
Mary K. Brown, 38, was charged with one count of physical abuse of an elder person intentionally causing great bodily harm and one count of mayhem, WEAU-TV reported. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison but could be higher because the victim is an older person, according to WQOW-TV.
A signature bond of $150,000 was set for Brown during her initial appearance in Pierce County Circuit Court on Tuesday, according to the television station. The bond was granted on the condition that the nurse has no contact with the victim’s family or her former employer, Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care of Spring Valley, Wisconsin.
According to the criminal complaint, Brown was a nurse assigned to care for the victim, who had severe frostbite on both of his feet after falling in his home after the heat went out in his home, WEAU reported. The victim was admitted to the nursing home in March 2022 and by the end of May, health officials believed he was close to death, according to WQOW.
In documents filed with the charges last month, on June 4, 2022, investigators were notified about a death at Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care. The medical examiner’s office ordered an autopsy after noticing that the foot of the 62-year-old man was not attached to his body, but laying next to him at funeral home, WEAU reported.
According to the man’s medical chart, his foot had been amputated in May 2022. Authorities were told by witnesses that Brown cut off the patient’s right foot on May 27 without permission from a doctor or the patient, KSTP-TV reported.
Nurses interviewed as part of the investigation said that Brown removed the foot for compassion and comfort, because the foot was necrotic and had begun to smell, WEAU reported.
“Brown had no doctor’s order to conduct an amputation. She stated that she did not have any authorization to remove (the) victim’s foot,” according to the criminal complaint. “Brown did not have (the) victim’s permission to amputate his foot. Administrators of the nursing home agreed that it was outside of the scope of Brown’s practice to conduct such a procedure and a doctor’s order was necessary prior to any amputation.”
One nurse told investigators that Brown allegedly told her that her family has a taxidermy shop, WQOW reported. According to the witness, Brown intended to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that read, “Wear your boots, kids.”
Kevin Larson, the CEO of Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care, said Brown is no longer employed with the facility.
“We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter,” Larson said in a statement. “The person identified is not employed with our community.”
Brown subsequently worked at Marshfield Clinic but has since been terminated, WQOW reported.
In addition to the felony charges, Brown faces a maximum penalty of $100,000 for each charge, WEAU reported. She is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 14 for a status conference.
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