Employee at Southside assisted living facility indicted after patient's death

An Etowah County Grand Jury indicted Caroline Burton (pictured) in December after she was accused of intentionally over-medicating a hospice patient. (abc3340.com)

An employee at a Southside assisted living facility who was accused of intentionally over-medicating a patient who later died was indicted on an assault charge earlier this month according to court records.

Caroline Burton was indicted on first degree assault by an Etowah County grand jury. The indictment said Burton caused severe injury and possibly killed Lois Pruitt by over-medicating her at the Woodland Place assisted living facility. Burton is not allowed inside the facility as a new condition of her bond.

In June, Southside Police said two employees of Woodland Place admitted to investigators they intentionally over medicated hospice patient, Lois Phillips Pruitt. Pruitt died days after the incident.

The other employee, Brooke Ragsdale was also charged with first degree assault. The case against her was also bound to a grand jury but no indictment had been announced as of Sunday afternoon. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret from the public.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Pruitt's estate in August claims Burton and Ragsdale gave Pruitt a fatal dose of morphine. The morphine was part of a comfort care kit provided to Woodland Place by Pruitt's private hospice nurse according to the lawsuit. Pruitt's estate claims Woodland Place was not qualified to administer narcotics. The indictment against Burton also indicates she was not authorized to administer that type of medication.

Prosecutors appeared to still be waiting for the results of an autopsy to determine if Pruitt's treatment at Woodland Place led to her death. If so, the charges against Burton and Ragsdale would be upgraded said Etowah County District Attorney Jody Willoughby.

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