Guilty of drug trafficking

Pharmacists that detected unusual actions by an aged care nurse led to her being found guilty of criminal offences related to trafficking drugs of dependence

A nurse with medication endorsement working at an aged care facility has been found to have engaged in professional misconduct by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal following criminal charges.

In her role the nurse would order boxes of Endone 5mg tablets and boxes of Oxynorm 5mg tablets, purportedly for patients.

However in breach of her employer’s policy for the collection of medications, the respondent attended at a pharmacy from which the medications were ordered on numerous occasions.

The nurse’s actions were detected by the pharmacy, which reported her to her employer, which in turn reported the matter to the Victoria Police.

A search warrant was executed at her residence, which revealed empty boxes of medication that matched the medications obtained from the pharmacy, in the name of residents from the nurse’s workplace.

Victoria Police assessed that in total the nurse had obtained 50 boxes of Endone 5mg tablets consisting of 1,000 pills and 15 boxes of Oxynorm consisting of 300 pills.

In February 2017 the nurse entered a plea of guilty before the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to one charge of trafficking a drug of dependence, and one charge of obtaining property by deception.

She was found guilty and was without conviction placed on a Community Corrections Order with conditions.

This month the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the nurse had engaged in professional misconduct.

“The offending was directly connected with her practice, in that she represented that she was obtaining medication for residents under her care and in this respect misused her position,” the Tribunal found, adding that “the offending was not isolated …  it took place over several months.”

The proceeding has been adjourned to a further date after parties make their submissions, where disciplinary actions and costs will be decided.

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