Dixon v. Nocona General Hospital

On January 7, 2001, an 82-year-old woman who had been admitted to Nocona hospital with suspected pneumonia went into respiratory arrest unexpectedly. She was revived, however she died later that day. Only later did her family realize that the drug administered by the nightshift nurse just before the respiratory arrest began was the actual cause of death, and it was intentionally administered to kill her.

Nocona is a small town in Texas close to the Oklahoma border. In the fall of 2000, a nurse in the 18-room Nocona General Hospital started stealing a medication called Mivacron off of crash carts. Mivacron is a medication used to briefly paralyze the respiratory system. It is typically used in small doses to help medical personnel intubate patients. In large doses, however, it can be deadly. This medication was considered a controlled substance, but it was handled with remarkable casualness by the Nocona General Hospital staff. Two vials were kept on a crash cart at all times. If a vial was empty or missing, a nurse could call or go to the dispensary to have it replaced. The employees of the dispensary were responsible for verifying the use and replacement of the drug, but they did not make any notes or investigations into the twelve vials that went missing in a three-month period.

The vials of Mivacron were taken by a nurse who, over this three-month period, killed more than twenty patients by injecting it into the patients’ IV tubes. There was no medical benefit to the use of this drug. It was administered to do harm to these patients deliberately. Even after the nurse in question was determined by the hospital to be the one who had access and possession of the drug and had been the last person to see these patients before their respiratory emergencies, the hospital allowed her to continue treating patients, unmonitored and unrestricted.

Slack Davis Sanger represented the family of the 82-year-old woman who was murdered, as well as the last person the nurse injected, who lived. The firm successfully brought both cases to a settlement that benefitted both family’s losses and damages due to the negligence of the hospital in managing its resources. The nurse pled no contest to the murders and was sentenced to life in prison.

Date of Incident

April 23, 2009

Location of Incident

Media Coverage

Angel of Death - Texas Monthly

Life term for ex-nurse in patient killings - NBC News

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