Nurse kills herself after medical error

The fatal overdose of an infant last year at Seattle Children's hospital has resulted in another death: The nurse at fault committed suicide.

Kimberly Hiatt, 50, a critical care nurse who had worked at Children's for 27 years, took her own life recently, the family confirmed in an interview with The Seattle Times newspaper. (For the full story, go to http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014830569_nurse21m.html.) After Hiatt's death, the state's Nursing Commission closed its investigation of her actions in the Sept. 19, 2010, death of Kaia Zautner. The critically ill infant died in part from complications from an overdose of calcium chloride, and Hiatt had been identified as the nurse who made the math error and administered the overdose.

The hospital put Hiatt on administrative leave and dismissed her soon after, according to information provided by the hospital. After a state investigation, she agreed to pay a fine and to undergo a four-year probationary period during which she would be supervised at any future nursing job when she gave medication, according to Hiatt's mother, Sharon Crum of Issaquah, WA.

Hiatt and the hospital settled with the Zautner family, but nondisclosure agreements prevent the parties from discussing the terms. An investigation by state facilities licensing officials into this death and two unrelated cases at Children's concluded that the hospital had "effective, adequate systems to prevent patient harm," according to the hospital.

In the months since the adverse event, Hiatt had been fighting to keep her nursing license, family members said. She had recently passed an advanced cardiac life-support certification exam to qualify for a job as a helicopter transport nurse, but she was having difficulty finding another nursing job.