Sylvia Forsmann sought a peaceful transition when she admitted her 81-year-old mother Leah to the Castro District’s Coming Home Hospice. What she received was an experience so traumatic and chilling that it could have been the plot to a Sue Grafton Novel.

CBS5 reports that the ordeal began when Sylvia Forsmann called on-duty nurse Betsi Bilyck to attend to her mother’s frequent coughing. The nurse administered a hefty dose of Atropine, and an hour later Leah Forsmann awoke struggling to breathe. Bilyck returned and continued to administer more of the drug. Sylvia suspected foul play too late; by the time she called the paramedics, her mother had died.

A private pathologist hired by Forsmann discovered enough Atropine in her mother’s system to kill seven horses. Forsmann filed suit against CPMC, and in a deposition taken as part of the lawsuit Bilyck admitted to acing unlawfully and without orders, all under the pretense of “alleviating [the patient’s] suffering.” Despite it all, Bilyck continued her work for the California Pacific Medical Center, who had this to say on the matter:

“CPMC believes its employees acted appropriately in caring for a resident who was terminally ill, and it is unfortunate that this patient’s family was dissatisfied with the care she received.”

Fortunately, matters have changed. Thanks in part to the investigative work of CBS5, the state’s vocational nursing board filed a formal accusation against Bilyck and moved to suspend her license. Pending further decision, the board has banned Bilyck from practicing care in any facility.

If any of this sounds familiar that is because it closely resembles to plot of an episode of the hit Showtime series Dexter. Minus of course the involvement of a righteous serial killer. We’ll leave all ethical judgments to the vocational nursing board in this one.

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