Orville Lynn Majors
Male nurse/serial killer.
Why they don't report them.
There were only about six sentences on this page. And then I got an email from a nurse who had worked with him.
This page had been here just for a synopsis of the case to remind readers of who he was when he was mentioned as an example on this site. It was not intended to be in depth or definitive. There is plenty available about him on the web for those who wish to know more. But then an anonymous nurse emailed me saying she had been on the scene when Majors was murdering patients. It was interesting to see yet another example of the perspective of health care professionals in matters concerning the safety of patients.
The six sentences that had been on this page about Majors said that when he was off duty, people died only every 551.6 hours. When he was on duty, a death occurred every 23.1 hours. Since no one tracks the well-being of patients to see whether the care makes them better or worse as a group, no one noticed - except for some nurses who were making bets as to which patient would die the next time Majors was on duty.
Did any of them report their concerns to the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana? Did any of them call the police? Or even leak anything to the police - an anonymous note perhaps? Or to the press? Not for the first hundred murders or so.
A Response to Which We Are Used
After reading that six sentence note on this page, the anonymous nurse emailed me indignantly explaining that the nurses couldn't report it for fear of losing their jobs. So I added her statement here and commented that from a patient's perspective that appeared to be yet another example of health care professionals valuing their own careers more than the lives of their patients. The nurse read that and emailed again saying she misspoke. She said that nurses did report it - to their supervisors.
If you, dear reader, knew a colleague at work was killing people, is that what you would do? Wouldn't you call the police? In medicine they say they would, and they believe they would, but they don't, as example after example testifies. So on this page I asked where else other than medicine would people become aware that a colleague was murdering customers and do no more than alert a supervisor?
The anonymous nurse wrote again saying that when the nurses complained to their supervisors, they were told that something would be done about it. When nothing was, the nurses finally wrote an anonymous letter to the police.
How many patients have to be murdered in medicine before health care professionals finally to go to the police? Apparently about a hundred. When I wrote that on this page, she emailed again indignantly telling me that if those nurses had reported it they could have been sued, which is why she was writing anonymously. She said they could have lost their jobs, their careers and even their families. She demanded that I name one time that I had been in that situation in order to understand what that is like.
Could this nurse articulate the subjectivity of health care professionals any more clearly? She has no apparent awareness of how often patients are threatened with such suits by their health care providers, and how often they are sued. Such obliviousness to the world that they create for patients is normal in medicine.
That aside, you cannot be sued for reporting someone to the police. You can be sued for threatening to because that starts to look like blackmail. But in the USA you have the right to complain to an appropriate authority and cannot be sued for doing so.
People Believe Themselves to be Objective
Patients are surprised when they become victims of adverse events in medicine and begin to hear the rattling of the sabers of risk management threatening lawsuits. Since patients do not understand their rights in these matters either, risk management can frighten them into not even filing a grievance. Nurses and doctors are not informed of it when those sabers are rattled at patients and how terrifying it is for the patients. This anonymous nurse has no awareness of the world that medicine creates for its patients.
Soon after injured patients discover medicine's insulation and indifference, they often have to face the equivalent of hatred from their caregivers. The anonymous emailer doesn't know that injured patients frequently end up in the situation she challenges us to name one time we have experienced. She also appears unaware of the darker and more sinister things that are done to patients in the name of protecting health care professionals. That too is covered elsewhere on this site where she could read it, yet she barked at me to do a little research to become more aware of how bad the situation is for nurses.
Isn't it her job to do a little research to become more aware of bad things are for her patients? Isn't it interesting that she appears to think patients should do research to be more aware of her situation? Where else in America do the providers expect the consumers to be more understanding of how difficult things are for the providers? Does Proctor and Gamble expect her to do research on them and understand their position?
Anyone know of any instances in which 100 nurses were murdered before anyone reported it to anyone who would do anything about it? How many nurses get physically injured and cannot get treatment because no one in medicine will diagnose their injuries (don't know how hard it can be for patients to get iatrogenic injuries diagnosed? - see blacklisting)? How many nurses even know that that is a problem for injured patients? Even upon being told about it, you can count on their either not believing it or deciding that it must be so rare that it is unimportant (a block we have been around by health care professionals many times) even after having been present for a hundred murders. As with this nurse.
Name one time when we have been in that situation? Try being injured and deteriorating, watching yourself become disabled without being able to get medical attention while the people who did it to you are dragging you to court to defend yourself on such short notice that you haven't got time to find a lawyer (risk management intentionally orchestrates it to work out that way).
Does she know what it is like to be so unwell that you cannot manage your own care, or work, or take care of your family, and now you have to represent yourself before a judge? You are in pain but you have to get your mind clear and free of pain killers to defend everything you have while your spouse frantically calls friends and relatives and goes through the phone book trying to find a lawyer who is available on such short notice. In court, you face the nurse or doctor who injured you and watch him/her sobbing about how his/her reputation could be hurt by your complaint (if you complain in a public forum you can be sued).
They have a team of lawyers and a battery of witnesses who will testify. You cannot even get a diagnosis of your injuries to show that you have any. Eventually, with enough money and enough persistence, you might be able to, but not in time to defend yourself, and not in time to heal the injuries. When left untreated for too long they become inoperable scar tissue or worse. And legal issues take up the time, energy and money you should have been spending trying to get healed.
Name one time we have been threatened with a suit? We can name more than one. We also can name sins and injustices more life-ruining than law suits that were brought by nurses and doctors against the patients they injured.
Does risk management tell nurses how it handles the sins and errors committed by nurses? Of course not. They insulate them. So health care professionals feel innocent and aggrieved with no appreciation for the damage they do to patients while still managing to believe they are innocent, good samaritans. The anonymous nurse imagines we won't even be able to name one time we have been in that situation. We wish it were only one. And we wish physical injuries had not been part of it. We gladly would have traded places with her.
Long Term Tracking
If no one in medicine knew Majors was murdering patients for the first 50 or 100 murders it is because medicine defiantly refuses to care about or know about the long term results it creates for patients. Medicine doesn't learn even from lethal events. It has no awareness of its own failure rate or success rate and continues behaving in ways that suit its own purposes rather than learning what works in the long term for patients. How many nurses know how their patients are doing several years later? Try to find one who knows he/she is the one causing infections.
Try asking surgeons what the success rate is for various surgeries. They have no reliable data but they speak as though they do. They make up statistics based on anecdotal evidence. That's good enough for them. They are not among the hundreds of thousands of patients killed unnecessarily each year in medicine (320,000 according to the July 15, 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, see summary here, but others have estimated that it is double that).
The anonymous nurse said that when "Union" bought the hospital, "they didn't want anyone who worked there in any position any longer. If they couldn't find a reason to fire you or make you resign, they bullied you out." She says that anyone even mentioned in the court proceedings does not work there anymore. Mobbing and bullying in medicine is covered elsewhere on this site. It is an issue that gets too little attention. And it is one of the reasons people in medicine do not report, even when reporting could prevent patients from being murdered.
She says, "They are not just fired, they are blackballed from ever working again. A lot of them are now on welfare, unable to find work, losing there homes, families, kids, everything. I'm not only talking that one hospital but all hospitals! These people are being fired for do the right thing, not failing to report."
If she had done a little research and read this site, she would have seen that that is one of the major points this site makes. Failing to report is not what they get fired for. Reporting is what they get fired for. It is what saves the lives of patients, but they get fired for that.
Not reporting is what is normal in medicine. See Janice Scully, M.D. for an example of how it is that more than 90% of what goes wrong in medicine is not reported. When the problem is criminal in nature the rate of reporting is even lower, as is covered elsewhere on this site. Medicine is a world in which a hundred patients need to get murdered before someone finally goes outside of the system to stop it.
There needs to be a more well-known and more realistic complaint system. Currently there are only pretenses of such. There needs to be one that isn't run by health care professionals, and especially not by risk management departments. They both are among the ones who cover up these problems in order to protect themselves at the expense of patients. The culture in medicine is dedicated to that. Look at how state medical boards handle the complaints of patients (see OSMB) - no better than risk management.
There needs to be a complaint process run by someone who actually is on the side of patients, like perhaps a state patients board.
In two years more than 160 suspicious deaths happened during Major's watch. That's one and a half per week. In medicine there is no routine mechanism that would notice this. It wasn't until he got sloppy and left tracks that didn't require paying attention to notice that someone finally did. But they didn't call the police. They told a supervisor and then watched as more patients were murdered.
As this nurse has demonstrated, people in medicine view my reporting information like this as a war on them rather than as a problem on which they need to work. This nurse emailed saying that millions of people every year go to hospitals without having terrible things happen. One hears that a lot in medicine. Someone should remind them that millions of people every year drove cars safely before there were brake lights, turn signals, safety glass, padded dash boards, seat belts, air bags, impact reducing unibody construction, traffic lights, stop signs and speed limits. Millions of people drove cars without terrible things happening before there were laws against drunk driving.
Protect the Patients
It's not just medicine's being responsible for more accidental injury and death than all other sources combined. It is that they won't protect patients even from intentional harm - even murder. Having this nurse become indignant when this patient didn't understand why she didn't protect those patients would be stupefying if this patient had not already heard these same arguments from numerous health care professionals rationalizing similar instances of protecting themselves at the expense of their patients.
Of the 147 elderly patients in his care, 130 died in a relatively brief span of time. If he had killed only, say, half of the patients in his care, or if he only had abused them, rather than murdering them, say by maiming or disfiguring or sexually assaulting them, he could have had a normal career, like Donald Harvey did for a couple of decades and James Burt did for a couple of decades. If too many complaints came in, Majors merely would have been transferred to someplace else, as happened with Charles Cullen, Genene Jones and Michael Swango.
Majors merely is another example of a miscreant in medicine finally getting stopped only because the scale of what he was doing became more than even the medical community was willing to cover up.
Caregivers believe and argue that they report everything. Patients need to worry when their care is entrusted to people so out of touch with reality.
The nurse fired off one last fusillade ending with the admonition for me not to respond. She knows she is right and patients are wrong and does not want to hear any thoughts patients might have to the contrary. That's actually a typical response to which we are used. We just don't usually share share them on the web. Just posting pages like this gets me banned from discussions in places like facebook, without quoting here the people doing that.
The Clinton, Indiana hospital changed its name from Vermillion County Hospital to West Central Community Hospital. This nurse apparently still has a job there. There is no way to find out how safe patients are this time around. We would need to create something like Community Patient Agencies to get any information about that.