Nurse Charged With Abuse After Allegedly Amputating Man's Foot Without Doctor's Order

foot amputated
The man had severe frostbite in both feet, authorities said. Getty Stock

A nurse has been charged with abuse and mayhem after she allegedly amputated a man's foot without permission, authorities said.

A Wisconsin nurse has been charged with two felony counts after she allegedly cut off a dying patient's foot without his permission or a doctor's order, authorities said.

Mary K. Brown, 38, faces one charge of mayhem and one count of physical abuse of an elder person by intentionally causing great bodily harm, according to a criminal complaint filed last week by Pierce County prosecutors.

“Brown had no doctor’s order to conduct an amputation. She stated that she did not have any authorization to remove VICTIM’s foot. Brown did not have VICTIM’s permission to amputate his foot. Administrators of the nursing home agreed that it was outside of the scope of Brown’s practice to conduct such a procedure and a doctor’s order was necessary prior to any amputation," the complaint said. 

The unnamed, 62-year-old patient had been admitted in March to Spring Valley Health and Rehab Center with severe frostbite on both feet after falling at home during a heat outage, authorities said.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department was notified in June after the medical examiner noticed the deceased patient's foot was not attached to his leg, "but was rather lying beside him," complaint said.

Nurse Brown had amputated the patient's foot on May 27, she and fellow caregivers said during a subsequent investigation, the complaint said. Brown acknowledged using surgical tape scissors to remove a piece of skin and tendons that were holding the necrotic foot to his leg, prosecutors said.

The foot was smelling and the patient was near death, nurses told authorities. Brown said she removed the foot out of compassion and for the comfort of the patient, the complaint said.

Some of the interviewed nurses said they were disturbed by Brown's actions and relayed that to management. Some nurses also said Brown spoke of her family's taxidermy business and that Brown said she wanted to preserve the foot and display it with a sign saying  "wear your boots, kids," according to the complaint.

A nursing home administrator told investigators that Brown did not have permission to remove the man's foot, but that it seemed she had done so for the dignity and comfort of the patient, according to the complaint.

Brown's first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 6. The Pierce County District Attorney's office did not respond to emailed questions Tuesday from Inside Edition Digital seeking additional information.

Brown is no longer employed by the facility, the center said in a statement.

“We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter. The person identified is not employed with our community," the statement said.

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