Respiratory therapist pleads guilty in deaths of 2 patients

A former respiratory therapist pleaded guilty in the deaths of two Missouri hospital patients in the early 2000s, The Kansas City Star reported April 22. 

Jennifer Hall, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree assault. Ms. Hall was initially arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. 

Fern Franco, 75, and David Wesley Harper, 37, were among nine people who died under "medically suspicious" events at Chillicothe, Mo.-based Hedrick Medical Center — where Ms. Hall worked as a respiratory therapist — in 2002, according to the report. 

An autopsy revealed morphine and a succinylcholine, a powerful muscle relaxer, in Ms. Franco's system. Neither drug had been ordered by her physicians, prosecutors said. 

Between December 2001 and May 2002, when Ms. Hall was put on administrative leave, the hospital saw 18 cardiac arrests or "Code Blue" events. Previously, the hospital recorded about one a year.

Before pleading guilty, Ms. Hall had denied any involvement in the patients' deaths, according to CBS News.

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