Nurse's license revoked seven years after homicide plea

Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska Board of Nursing this week revoked Ronald Steven Medley's licenses to practice as a registered nurse and advanced nurse practitioner. The action comes more than seven years after Medley removed the life support of a Providence hospital patient without a physician's authorization.

The 48-year-old Anchorage nurse has been under investigation by several agencies since he disconnected the life support for Mavauna Merrick of Soldotna, who then died Nov. 5, 1993, according to state records. Almost two years later, Medley was convicted of criminally negligent homicide based on a no contest plea. The Superior Court judge sentenced Medley to 60 days in jail, a $10,000 fine and community service.

Five years later, the board revoked his licenses, saying that Medley violated Alaska's criminal code, nursing board laws and the policies at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

David Stebing, the hearing officer who examined the case, said in a written report that Medley committed an ''unjustified homicide'' when he disconnected Merrick's life support. Stebing's report states that Medley's actions were considered unprofessional conduct because he acted without appropriate medical or legal authority.

Medley has appealed the revocations to Superior Court and asked the nursing board to delay action until his appeal is heard. He signed an affidavit stating that revoking his licenses prior to his appeal would damage his professional and personal reputation, his nursing knowledge and skills, and his economic well-being.

Last week, the nursing board met and proceeded with the revocation, said Barbara Berner, chairwoman of the board. As of today, Medley can no longer practice nursing.

Several investigators provided public documents about Medley's case but would not comment about it. Neither would Medley's lawyer, Linda Webb. Several attempts to contact Medley were unsuccessful.

Medley thinks the Division of Occupational Licensing, which administers the nursing board, violated his right to due process by waiting so long to charge him, according to state documents. Webb points out in a memorandum that the nursing board granted Medley a license, renewed his licenses twice and granted him an advanced nurse practitioner's license -- all after the life support incident.

Stebing defended the time delay, in another memorandum, saying his division postponed its examination to allow the criminal investigators to finish their job. Furthermore, Medley allowed his license to lapse between Dec. 1, 1994, and Nov. 29, 1995, and the division stopped its investigation until he became licensed again, Stebing wrote.

Catherine Reardon, director of the Division of Occupational Licensing, said most cases are closed in much less than seven years. This case stands out because the nursing board was considering a stringent punishment, she said.

''The revocations are relatively rare decisions by boards and a relatively rare proposal by hearing officers,'' she said. ''Revocations aren't something boards or hearing officers do lightly.''

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