by Steven Ertelt
August 17, 2006
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A nurse who cared for Terri Schiavo during the mid 1990s and helped expose her former husband’s mistreatment of her will have a new hearing into a complaint that alleges she violated nursing standards by talking about details of the lawsuit between Terri’s parents and Michael Schiavo.
Carla Sauer-Iyer spoke about things that happened to Terri in an interview she gave CNN in the days leading up to Terri’s euthanasia death. Some of the material she discussed was in an affidavit she filed in the Terri legal battle supporting Terri’s parents.
After getting a complaint from someone in Massachusetts who supported Michael’s right to take Terri’s life, the nursing board proposed a one-sided deal by which Sauer-Iyer would relinquish her nursing license and pay nearly $1,700 in administrative fees.
But the Florida Department of Health urged the state nursing board to not revoke her license, saying the information she discussed in the interview was already public record.
The Florida nursing board found "probable cause" to discipline Sauer-Iyer but plans to review its decision today at the request of the state health department.
Sauer-Iyer defends talking about Michael’s mistreating Terri in the interview with CNN.
"I was trying to come forward and advocate for a patient," she told The Ledger newspaper. "I was protecting Terri. It was morally and ethically the right thing to do."
Allen Grossman, Sauer-Iyer’s attorney, told the newspaper that what she said in the CNN interview "was little more" than what she had disclosed in the December 2003 affidavit.
"It is neither reasonable nor plausible for the department to assert that Ms. Schiavo’s medical history was still a confidential matter at the time of Ms. Sauer’s interview," Grossman wrote in a letter to the health department.
Rick Garcia, executive director for the Florida Board of Nursing, told the Ledger newspaper that the board could uphold its previous decision against Sauer-Iyer or reverse it.
Governor Jeb Bush has sided with Sauer-Iyer in the case and told the nursing board he thinks it should reverse its decision.
"The governor feels the actions taken against Sauer-Iyer are not justified and hopes that the complaint will be reconsidered and dismissed," Bush spokesman Russell Schweiss wrote in an e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times. "She did not disclose any information which was not already public."
Sauer-Iyer, who is employed at the Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center, filed an affidavit for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his attempts to help Terri’s parents prevent Terri’s death.
Sauer-Iyer said that, after one visit by Michael in Terri’s room for 20 minutes with the door shut, Sauer-Iyer found Terri lethargic and "crying hysterically." She checked Terri’s blood sugar levels and they were barely showing any reading on the glucometer, she indicated. She also saw a vial of "insulin concealed in the trash bin."
She indicated there were needle marks underneath Terri’s breast, under her arms, and in her groin area.
Iyer explained in an August 2003 affidavit for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler that that Michael would complain when staff would take care of her or feed her. He would also refused to provide her with any rehabilitative treatment.
"[T]hat’s therapy — take that washcloth out," he would tell Iyer.
She said, "it was clear to me at Palm Garden that all decisions regarding Terri Schiavo were made by Michael Schiavo with no allowances made for any discussion, debate or normal professional judgment. My initial training there consists solely of the instruction, ‘Do what Michael Schiavo tells you or you will be terminated.’"
"Very few of us were allowed to see Terri," she said. However, she saw enough of Terri to know that she was not in a persistent vegetative state.
Iyer said one of the problems in the long legal battle between Michael and the Schindlers had been courts not fully investigating every complaint and concern.
"That’s been the problem the whole time — [presiding] Judge Greer not looking into all the evidence," Iyer said last year.
Iyer said she has never been interviewed by any of the judges considering Terri’s case.
"None of us were able to testify," she said, referring to fellow nurses Heidi Law and Carolyn Johnson, who both filed affidavits to confirm Iyer’s contention that Michael withheld medical care and rehabilitative treatment and may have tried to take his wife’s life.
In the affidavit, Iyer contends Michael repeatedly asked hospice staff when Terri was going to die, with demeaning questions such as "When is that bitch gonna die?"
Iyer was ultimately fired from her position after filing a police report regarding the insulin incident. She cared for Terri from April 1995 through August 1996.