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Report: Nurse amputates patient's foot without permission, wanted to put in taxidermy shop

The nurse allegedly said she was "going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said 'Wear your boots kids.'"
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Posted at 12:56 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 15:56:48-05

A Wisconsin nurse allegedly amputated a patient's foot without permission with hopes of displaying it in her family's taxidermy shop, according to a report from NBC News.

Court documents say 38-year-old Mary K. Brown removed a 62-year-old patient's frostbitten foot in Pierce County on May 27. It happened at Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center.

A report says Brown was charged last week with physical abuse of an elder person intentionally causing great bodily harm and mayhem.

In June, the county medical examiner contacted investigators after saying the body was sent for an autopsy because of "the unusual circumstances of his death," according to NBC. The medical examiner said rather than the foot being attached to the body, it was lying beside the victim.

The victim was taken to the rehabilitation center after he fell in his home when the heat went out, causing him to have "severe frostbite" on both of his feet. Brown said she cut off the foot in an act of compassion due to the "dire state of his feet."

Nurses, who were interviewed by Pierce County sheriff's investigator Pete Koch, said the foot smelled and was "black like a mummy." Hospice nurses also visited the patient frequently prior to the amputation and believed he would die soon, according to NBC. The center's director of nursing said a few days before the amputation, the victim's foot was "dead, foul smelling, and was held on by a tendon."

Brown reportedly used scissors to cut a tendon, amputating his right foot altogether, without a doctor's order. Two other nurses were in the room at the time. The foot was placed in a bag in a freezer to be sent with the victim when he died.

Brown allegedly told Koch the victim didn't show any signs of pain and his stump was covered with gauze. However, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one of the nurses who was holding his hand said his grip was "extremely tight and he was moaning a little bit" during the amputation.

Another nurse who spoke with the victim said he said "when they cut his foot off he felt everything and it hurt very bad."

Brown said the patient complained about the smell and she thought he "would like it better" amputated.

A nurse told Koch that during the procedure Brown talked about taking the victim's foot home and "epoxying it." Another nurse, who was not involved in the amputation, said Brown has a taxidermy shop and said she was "going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said 'Wear your boots kids.'"

The facility's administrator and CEO, Kevin Larson, said Brown did not do a report on the incident nor wrote anything in the victim's chart regarding the amputation.

According to NBC, Larson believed a doctor would have given the order if asked and does not believe Brown had any malicious motive.

Brown will appear for her initial appearance in court at the Pierce County Courthouse on Dec. 6.

The Associated Press reported, citing a complaint, the man was admitted to a health and rehab center after he fell at his home in March. The heat in his home was reportedly not turned on, and he suffered frostbite to both feet, causing the tissue to become necrotic.

His right foot remained attached to his leg by a tendon and roughly 2 inches of skin, according to a report.

This story was originally published by WTMJ in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.