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Pinellas nurses may have allowed spoiled vaccines to go to low-income kids

in Local Courts/Top Headlines by
Board-certified pediatrician Stephen George Nelson

Two nurses at a Pinellas County pediatric clinic serving low-income children are accused of allowing distribution of damaged vaccines. A court filing suggests they may have also deceived state regulators of the spoiled medication.

Board-certified pediatrician Stephen George Nelson founded a pediatric medical practice in 1981. As of April 2017, Dr. Nelson, 67, has five pediatricians working for his practice with three locations in St. Petersburg and Seminole.

Pinellas Park resident Shannon Rochelle Best, 37, is a licensed practical nurse who works (or had worked) for Nelson. She now is at Peninsula Pediatrics. Mary Muhlstadt Bottieri, 53, is a licensed practical nurse from St. Petersburg who also employed by Nelson at one time. Now, she serves as a nurse manager at Peninsula Pediatrics.

Nelson issued free vaccines to low-income child patients through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.

Nurses Bottieri and Best were instructed to collect daily temperature data from the vaccines’ storage units, and notify a state monitoring agency if temperatures “exceeded or fell below the accepted temperature variation range,” and mark all damaged dosages ‘Do Not Use.’

According to an April 11 complaint filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Nelson claims in 2016 the two nurses intentionally did not alert state regulators of the VFC program of unacceptable temperature variations, as well as failing to mark the spoiled dosages “Do Not Use.”

Court records do not show the number, if any, of VFC patients who actually received the damaged vaccines, whether they suffered any adverse effects, and if (or when) patients’ parents were informed of the situation. Nelson is seeking damages for alleged wrongdoing.

Although the lawsuit does not indicate how the plaintiff suffered as a result of the allegedly wrongful actions, possible consequences include removal from the VFC program, lawsuits from VFC patients, federal fines and other complications.


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