Nurse faces loss of registration over drug charges

Date:Mar 06, 2019

While they're responsible for serving and protecting communities, emergency service workers aren't always perfect. As and when negligent behaviour emerges in these roles, it's often deemed more substantial due to the greater duty of care they owe to patients.

This was evident in a recent case brought before the NSW Tribunal where the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) alleged a nurse was no longer suitable to hold her working registration.

What was the basis of the HCCC's complaint?

The HCCC made four complaints against the nurse (the respondent):

Complaint one: It alleged that on October 7, 2016, the nurse was convicted of criminal offences in NSW. This involved two counts of supplying a prohibited drug. The first conviction was for supplying 53.2 grams of methamphetamine on September 24, 2014 and the second was for supplying 55.7 grams of methamphetamine on November 5, 2014.

Complaint two: The HCCC claimed the respondent contravened the National Law by failing to notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) that she had been charged with the aforementioned offences. Furthermore, she failed to provide details of any change in her criminal history when applying for renewal of her nursing registration.

Complaint three: The particulars of the third complaint are that the nurse made false and misleading statements when submitting her renewal applications on April 27, 2014 and March 25, 2015. It's alleged she answered 'no' to questions concerning changes in her criminal history.

Complaint four: The last complaint stated that the respondent was not a suitable person to hold a registration in the nursing profession. This was supported by the previous three complaints, as well as other allegations that she supplied more drugs.

What did the court decide?

The respondent was not present at the time of the hearing as she was serving her 18-month prison sentence. However, she submitted the following statement:

"I am currently serving an 18-month prison sentence for my crime in taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug. I am fully aware of my level of responsibility in participating in such a crime. I am eternally sorry and I am deeply ashamed of my actions," said the nurse.

The court was aware of the severity of her actions, however, they believed it did not demonstrate a fundamental deficiency of character that was so serious as to warrant an exclusion from the profession. This, paired with the nurse's remorse, meant that complaint four was dismissed, while the other three remained.

It's never too late to come forward with a case of medical negligence. If you've sustained physical or psychological injuries as a result of negligent behaviour in a medical establishment, get in touch with the expert lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.  

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