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The Tennessee Board of Nursing in an emergency action has suspended the license of a home health nurse who continued working after being indicted on charges of beating a semi-comatose quadriplegic patient.

Dwight Cullen of Gallatin was working for Maxim Healthcare when the board took the action last month, according to the suspension order. The company said it did not know about the indictment when he was hired. Cullen's name was not on the Tennessee Department of Health Abuse Registry, a database that allows people to check the backgrounds of health providers, as of Thursday afternoon.

The alleged beating occurred in February after Cullen failed to secure Brian Bloodworth in a harness while attempting to put him in his wheelchair, the order states, describing how the nurse then fell on top of him, hit Bloodworth's head on the wheel of his wheelchair numerous times and then dragged him across the floor by one leg.

The patient's feeding tube and urinary catheter became dislodged in the process, causing him to bleed. Cullen then attempted to reinsert both tubes, without wearing gloves or using sterile gauze, and tried to put the feeding tube in upside down, the order said.

The series of events was caught on a home surveillance system, according to an affidavit filed by a Goodlettsville police detective. Bloodworth's father, Dan Bloodworth, turned the video over to police. The police report states that Cullen had been Brian Bloodworth's caretaker for 19 years.

Although Cullen was indicted by a grand jury in Sumner County on May 8, he was employed at Maxim Healthcare providing care to another quadriplegic patient when the Board of Nursing took its action June 12.

Maxim Healthcare Services said in a written statement that Cullen "was suspended immediately after we became aware of the board's investigation. He remains on suspension pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

"It is important to note that the incident in question did not involve a patient in our care. The care and safety of our patients remains our highest priority and we take the trust they place in us very seriously."

The Board of Nursing took the action based on the testimony of Department of Health Investigator Marcelena Sutton-Owens and Detective Les Carlisle of the Goodlettsville Police Department, as well as photographs of the patient and documents from the police department and Tennessee Adult Protective Services.

Cullen has been a licensed practical nurse in Tennessee since 1992.

"We will be pursuing placement of Mr. Cullen on the (abuse) registry," said Shelley Walker, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health. "This can take some time because offenders are afforded due process."

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