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Police investigate death of patient

Ben Godar

Burbank Police are investigating the death of a patient at Providence

St. Joseph Medical Center who was given the wrong medication.

Pierre Azar, 80, of Burbank, died Saturday morning within minutes

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of being given a sedative to calm him by an attending nurse. His

doctor had not prescribed the medication, police said. Azar was in

the hospital because he was terminally ill with cancer and hospital

officials said they had been given instructions not to resuscitate

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him.

Hospital officials contacted police immediately because of the

circumstances surrounding the death, spokesman Sgt. Will Berry said.

Police would not release the names of the hospital employees involved

in the incident, saying the case was still an active investigation.

No charges have been filed in connection with the death.

Berry did say that the overdose appears to have been accidental.

“This is in no way an Angel of Death thing,” he said. “This has to

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do more with an accidental overdose of drugs than a deliberate act.”

Officials with the coroner’s office examined the body Tuesday

morning, but spokesman David Campbell said the cause of death would

not be determined until toxicology tests are completed in six to

eight weeks.

The two registered nurses involved have been pulled off schedules

for the coming week as hospital officials conduct their own

investigation, spokesman Brian Greene said. He also cautioned against

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concluding Azar died as a result of the medication until the

investigation is complete.

“We want to have all the facts and find out why this patient

died,” he said.

The nurses were giving Azar the medication to ease his pain and

Greene said hospital officials and his family recently discussed

moving him into hospice care.


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