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Ducey issues order to increase protection for people with disabilities

The executive order comes in response to the case of a nurse who prosecutors say sexually assaulted an incapacitated patient, impregnating her.

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Tuesday, the latest in his response to an apparent lapse in patient safety at a Phoenix facility that led to an incapacitated patient's sexual assault.

The order, according to a release from the governor's office, will require state agencies to "develop protocols on preventing, recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect" against those requiring care due to their disabilities.

Staff who directly contact patients with disabilities will also be required to undergo annual abuse prevention training.

RELATED: Gov. Ducey calls for charges against Hacienda HealthCare

“All Arizonans deserve to be safe — and we have a special responsibility to protect those with disabilities,” Ducey said in a statement announcing the order.

The statement said that state agencies related to care for those with disabilities (the Department of Health Services, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and the Department of Economic Security) will come together to consider the next steps in response to the sexual assault case at Hacienda Healthcare.

On Dec. 29, a 29-year-old patient at the facility gave birth to a boy. The woman was in an incapacitated state, and DNA tests on the baby led investigators to her nurse, Nathan Sutherland.

RELATED: Former Hacienda Healthcare nurse indicted on sex assault, vulnerable adult abuse

Officers arrested Sutherland last month, and he pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in court.

Tuesday evening, Ducey sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asking his office to prosecute leaders at Hacienda Healthcare for their role in allowing the sexual assault to happen.


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