NEWARK – A registered nurse has agreed to the temporary suspension of her license amid allegations she repeatedly assaulted a 10-year-old autistic boy in her care at the inpatient psychiatric unit of AtlantiCare Regional Health Care’s City Campus, allegedly stabbing the boy numerous times with a hypodermic needle and bending his finger backward until it cracked in an effort to make him obey her orders.
Nurse Naomi Derrick agreed to the temporary license suspension after Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino filed a Complaint with the Board of Nursing accusing Derrick of gross negligence, professional misconduct, and incompetence in her treatment of the child, who resides at the medical facility.
“A developmentally disabled child, confined to a psychiatric ward under the supervision of nurses, is as vulnerable a patient as you can find,” said Acting Attorney General Porrino. “Instead of caring for this boy and protecting him from harm, as was her duty, Naomi Derrick allegedly used her position of authority to bully and assault him. There is no place in the healthcare profession for this kind of barbaric behavior.”
“Naomi Derrick will have no access to patients — child or adult— while these appalling allegations against her are pending,” said Steve Lee, Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Her alleged actions demonstrate a shocking departure from the most basic standards of care, let alone the standard of care one would expect for a child with special needs. If Nurse Derrick had not agreed to voluntarily surrender her license, the Board was prepared to take action to suspend it.”
According to documents filed with the Board, the assaults on the boy took place on May 15, 2016, while Derrick was the boy’s assigned nurse during the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift at the hospital.
In a series of incidents captured on a video camera in the boy’s room and/or witnessed by another hospital employee, Derrick several times brandished the syringe in a menacing manner and threatened the boy that she would “give him the needle” if he did not behave, according to the filed documents. On at least six occasions throughout the day, Derrick stabbed the boy with the unsheathed hypodermic needle, sometimes repeatedly, according to the filed documents. She stuck the boy in his upper arm, thigh, kneecaps, foot, and hand – each time drawing droplets of blood, according to the documents.
Derrick also attempted to force compliance from the boy by stepping on his bare foot with her shoe, forcing him to fall by repeatedly shoving a chair he was holding onto, and bending his pinky finger back until a crack was heard, the documents state.
Under the terms of an Interim Consent Order with the Board, Derrick is required to immediately surrender her nursing licenses – both wallet and wall version – to the Board’s attorney. She is barred from practice pending further action by the Board, and pending the resolution of any criminal charges that may be filed against her during her suspension.
This investigation was conducted by the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation of the matter.
Deputy Attorney General David M. Puteska from the Division of Law is representing the State in this matter.
Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.