A nurse’s forged scripts came to light thanks to the actions of a vigilant pharmacist
A former nurse has been disqualified from being registered in the profession for 18 months, after she took prescription pads and forged scripts which she then presented at a pharmacy.
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW heard that the woman had commenced employment at a medical centre in September 2018, working across two suburban Sydney clinics as an enrolled nurse.
The Health Care Complaints Commission made allegations about conduct which took place over eight weeks in 2019, alleging unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.
The Tribunal heard that the nurse inappropriately took two prescription pads belonging to two GPs at the medical centre – identified only as Doctor A and Doctor B – and used these pads to forge and present scripts for herself and a relative, Person C.
In all, eight individual scripts were written – six for herself, and two for Person C.
Over six scripts, from both Dr A’s and Dr B’s prescription pads, she issued scripts for herself for medicines including Diazepam 5mg (50); Endone 5mg (20); Duloxetine 60mg (28); and Nitrazepam 5mg (25).
For her relative, she wrote one script for Oxycodone 5mg (20), and Diazepam 5mg (50).
The nurse presented three of the scripts to a pharmacist, who noted issues with them, the Tribunal heard.
This pharmacist then contacted the doctor who had purportedly written the scripts to have them verified – at which point the doctor confirmed that he had not issued them.
The Tribunal heard that the former nurse lived with several pre-existing conditions for which she had sought professional treatment, and had been on medication since she was 15.
She said that the conduct had taken place at a “low point” in her life: while planning her wedding, she had been told at the age of 22 that she was infertile.
She underwent fertility treatment and said that she “did not handle her situation well”.
She told the Tribunal that she had previously been prescribed the medications for which her forged scripts were issued, legitimately and for the existing conditions as well as pain management.
“She explained she had wanted to protect herself and her career by not admitting that she needed these medications to assist her in dealing with her mental health issues at the time,” the Tribunal noted.
During Section 150 proceedings, the former nurse then gave false information, saying that she had only issued three scripts (Nitrazepam for herself, and the scripts for her relative).
She also claimed that she had not forged the doctor’s signature, saying a different doctor had signed the script.
However she said she was “grateful” that her conduct was found out before it escalated, and expressed shame and remorse for her actions.
The nurse was let go from her employment at the Medical Centre in April 2019 and when her registration lapsed in July, she did not seek to renew it. She is currently unregistered.
She has since worked in child care and had a daughter in late 2020 – and said she did not plan to return to nursing.
The Tribunal made orders that if the nurse was still registered in her profession, it would have cancelled her registration.
She is disqualified from reapplying to practise nursing for 18 months, and was ordered to pay the HCCC’s costs.