NEWARK – An Atlantic County nurse’s license has been revoked after an incident in 2016 where she repeatedly stabbed a 10-year-old autistic child with a hypodermic needle for disobeying her orders, announced Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The State Board of Nursing revoked the license of Naomi Derrick, of Sicklerville, registered nurse at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City. The State is also moving for the revocation of Derrick’s respiratory therapist license under the State Board of Respiratory Care.
In May 2016, Derrick made numerous threats to the 10-year old, saying she would “give him a needle” if he did not behave. She carried her threats through, jabbing the child with it on at least six occasions during a 12-hour overnight shift.
The incidents were witnessed by a fellow employee and captured on a security camera in the boy’s room. Derrick stuck the child on his upper arm, thigh, kneecaps, foot, and hand, frequently drawing droplets of blood.
“Vulnerable children with special needs should be treated with the highest standard of care,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The conduct at issue in this case did not only fall far short of that standard, it demonstrated a level of cruelty that has no place in the nursing profession, and is entirely unacceptable.”
“Intimidating and terrorizing a developmentally disabled child who is completely dependent on your care is a horror that should not be visited upon anyone,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We’re taking appropriate steps to ensure that Naomi Derrick will never again be able to use her position as a licensed health care professional to abuse patients in this state, especially vulnerable children.”
The final decision was made on August 15, the Board called Derrick’s conduct “egregious and disturbing” and concluded that her interaction with the child amounted to gross and repeated acts of negligence, malpractice, incompetence, and professional misconduct. The Board also found that Derrick lacked good moral character required of a nursing licensee.
“Quite simply, (Derrick) should not be a nurse,” the Board concluded. “With her license revoked, she has lost the privilege to practice. The Board notes that the egregiousness of her acts were of a magnitude that would assuredly militate against any future reinstatement of that privilege.”
The Board unanimously adopted the recommended findings of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) who heard her case during a one-day trial at the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) in March 2019.
During the trial, Derrick denied the accusations but admitted to unsheathing the needle multiple times and threatening him with it to “calm him down” throughout the night shift. Derrick also testified that the boy would call her names, pull her hair, throw a sheet at her, and try to leave the room and go into other patients’ rooms.
Derrick admitted to telling the boy he would be “put in restraints and get the injection” if he did not comply, which another nurse had allegedly verbally instructed her to do. However, that instruction was not in writing.
The AJL recommended that Derrick’s license be revoked back in June.
In July, the Board held a hearing on the AJL’s recommendations where Derrick argued that her license should not be revoked. She instead suggested that her license be suspended, claiming that that there was no evidence that the child was injured since no blood or bruising could be seen on the video and an examination of the child on the next day revealed no obvious signs of injury. She also argued that, in her eight years of nursing, she had no other disciplinary order against her.
In addition to revoking Derrick’s license, the Board ordered her to pay 10 percent of the costs racked up by her case, a total of $2,166.
Derrick’s license was temporarily suspended in August 2016, pending the outcome of her case and pending the outcome of any criminal charges filed against her as a result of her interaction with the child.
In August 2017, Derrick was criminally charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, child endangerment, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (the syringe.)
In January 2019, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office allowed Derrick to enter a pretrial intervention program to resolve those charges.
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.