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Prosecutor: No charges in Twin Falls baby death

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 19:08:40-05

The Twin Falls County Prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges in the case of a seven-month old baby who died at St. Luke’s Magic Valley hospital late September of last year.

August Elliott died of cardiac arrest after being accidentally given medication meant for another patient.

Medical personnel immediately started resuscitation efforts, but they were unsuccessful.

Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs’ office launched a investigation into whether charges should be filed against Nurse Jeffrey Smith who mistakenly administered the incorrect medication. At that time, Smith was working at the hospital as a “traveler,” or a temporary nurse on a contract basis.

But late Friday, Loebs announced the nurse would not be prosecuted..

In a letter e-mailed to the media, Loebs wrote: “By the standards put forth in Idaho statute and Idaho case law, Nurse Smith did not act in a manner that was criminally negligent. There is no evidence that he intended to harm August Elliott, or that he intended to administer the fatal medication to August. In fact, there is every reason to believe that he would not have done so if he had read the label on the medication and realized that the medication was not meant for August.

“While it is clear that Nurse Smith's actions caused the death of August Elliott, and that August's death would have been avoided if Nurse Smith had taken more time or care to properly check the medication he was dispensing, his actions do not rise to the level of criminal negligence as currently defined in Idaho law.”

Soon after the death, the hospital announced new procedures were in place across the St. Luke’s Health Systems network of medical facilities to prevent such accidental deaths from occurring in the future.

Here is Loeb’s letter in its entirety: