Nurse who browsed internet while man fell and later died is struck off
Posted on 23rd March 2020 at 21:59
Woman on night duty in nursing home was meant to be checking on resident regularly
A nurse on night duty browsed internet shopping websites when she should have been checking on a nursing home resident who fell out of his bed and died later that day, the High Court heard.
The nurse was struck off for misconduct by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, on Monday.
The judge said her conduct justified the recommendation from the Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMB) that her registration be cancelled.
The nurse cannot be named by order of the court because she suffers from serious medical conditions.
The judge said, not only was her care for the elderly man substandard, she had subsequently lied about having checked him before and after the fall.
The court heard the nurse, who up to this had an unblemished record but was at the time under marital and financial difficulties, was on duty on the night of December 11th/12th 2015.
She was the only nurse on duty but had been provided with a care plan whereby she had to check the resident on an hourly basis because he had been deemed as being at high risk of falling.
Eoghan O’Sullivan BL, for the board, said during the night two care assistants found the man on the floor. It was clear he had fallen and was noted to have a bruise on his abdomen.
Efforts were made to call a GP but through no fault of the nurse or anyone else, a doctor could not attend. The man’s condition deteriorated during the night and by morning he was transferred to hospital where he later died, counsel said.
Mr O’Sullivan said an investigation followed and the nurse made statements to the inquiry, and a similar one to the coroner, where she indicated “she had either herself checked the resident or arranged somebody else to do it.”
She also claimed, subsequent to the fall, she checked him on a regular basis, had a cup of tea with him and comforted him.
CCTV footage from the nursing home corridors however showed she had not checked him for a six hour period before he was found on the floor, counsel said.
It also showed she did not return to him for two and a half hours after the fall or sit with him as had been claimed.
The computer in the nurse’s station was checked and the internet history “revealed frequent use for personal purposes between 1.30am and 4.30am and various shopping websites were being accessed,” counsel said.
A fitness to practise committee found her guilty of 16 allegations of professional misconduct, including a serious falling short of the standard of care expected and in providing false statements. She contested most of the allegations but the committee recommended her strike off.
The nursing board supported this, saying while it had sympathy for her, there was no justification for reducing the sanction.
Mr Justice Kelly said there were multiple instances of misconduct including giving false statements. “When she had the opportunity to put that right between the events of the night and the hearing in the coroner’s court she continued to tell lies.”
What was involved here was serious dishonesty which even extended to making a false deposition before a coroner, the judge said.
Trust is at the heart of nursing and other professions and at a time when that reputation is at its height, it was unfortunate that “one of its number has besmirched that reputation,” he said.The only sanction was a strike off, he said.
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