Police Say 76-Year-Old Patient Stabbed Nurse In Hospital, Nearly Missing Vital Artery

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A 76-year-old terminal patient was arrested and charged after allegedly stabbing a nurse in the neck Monday, narrowly missing her carotid artery.

David Nichols is facing charges of attempted murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after allegedly using a pocket knife to assault a nurse at a Massachusetts hospital, CBS News Boston reported. Nichols, who is suffering from lung cancer, was in the Heywood Hospital emergency room when he reportedly stabbed the nurse as she made an adjustment to his oxygen tube, prosecutors said Tuesday, according to NBC 10 News.

“The defendant grabbed her by the neck with his left arm,” Assistant District Attorney Marc Dupuis stated in court, according to CBS News. “She felt a laceration to her neck. She immediately screamed for help.”

The unnamed nurse reportedly sustained a three-inch deep wound that came very close to her carotid artery, police revealed, according to the outlet.

“Healthcare workers should not worry about if they’re going to return home after their shift when they’re walking in the door,” Karen Coughlin, an RN with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, stated of the alleged assault, according to CBS News. Coughlin is advocating for lawmakers to ensure better protections for healthcare workers and paid time off to recover after assaults.

“There’s a large majority of nurses that are working at the bedside, they’ve been witness or victim to more than one assault in their career, so it does take a toll,” Coughlin stated, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Inmate Kills Prison Guard, Nurse In Penitentiary Attack)

A representative for Nichols revealed the 76-year-old has been given six months to live, NBC 10 reported. Defense attorneys entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Tuesday. The judge set Nichols’ bail at $100,000 and ordered that he be kept under house arrest until his next court hearing on July 14, the outlet stated. Nichols reportedly has a 6-page criminal history, which includes records of past assaults, CBS News reported.

The victim was transported to a different hospital for treatment of her injury, the outlet stated,

Heywood Healthcare CEO Rozanna Penney praised the response of the hospital staff in the wake of the alleged assault. “Our primary responsibility as leaders is to take care of our staff, and we do not take this responsibility lightly,” Penney stated, according to CBS News.