Black nurse was wrongly accused of manslaughter after 'racially biased' hospital investigation: lawsuit

On Wednesday, The Denver Postreported that a Black nurse has filed a federal lawsuit against the Aurora, Colorado, hospital where she once worked, alleging that she faced a pattern of racial discrimination that ultimately led to the hospital getting her falsely charged with manslaughter for the death of an elderly patient.

"DonQuenick Joppy, 39, claims in a newly filed federal lawsuit that her colleagues at The Medical Center of Aurora discriminated against her by humiliating her, criticizing her in ways they did not criticize her white peers and denying her opportunities for growth," reported Shelly Bradbury.

"She claims a pattern of discrimination by the hospital ultimately caused her to be prosecuted for manslaughter in the death of a 94-year-old patient in 2019. The criminal charges, brought by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, were later dropped at the prosecution’s request 'in the interest of justice,' a motion to dismiss shows."

According to the lawsuit, Joppy carried out an end-of-life order at the request of a doctor, only to be accused of acting without authorization. She was also accused of staying past her shift improperly, even though the practice was common at the hospital. This led to her termination, and to a "racially biased" investigation by the hospital that triggered the prosecution, she alleges.

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"The man died on May 24, 2019, after coming to the hospital with evidence of septic shock and multi-organ failure, according to the complaint. He was put on a ventilator before the man’s family decided to move him to the ICU for palliative care," said the report. "The patient came under Joppy’s care toward the end of her overnight shift, on a day when the ICU was understaffed, according to the complaint. Joppy stayed two hours past the end of her shift, which ended at 7 a.m., to care for the man. Around 8 a.m., a doctor gave a verbal order for 'end of life' measures to another nurse, who delegated the order to Joppy, according to the lawsuit. Joppy then called a respiratory therapist and followed his instructions for turning off the ventilator."

The Medical Center of Aurora denies acting improperly, and calls the lawsuit "without merit" and "a tactic by a disgruntled former colleague."

This comes amid other high-profile lawsuits alleging racial discrimination, including a Black Kansas City police officer who was pulled over by his own department while in uniform and driving an unmarked police car.

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