A pharmacy reported a nurse to police for trying to obtain Duromine and Endone using forged scripts, leading her to be charged with 77 offences
A nurse from Queensland has been found guilty of professional misconduct and reprimanded after she was found to have forged 12 prescriptions to obtain Duromine, and one to obtain Endone, using a prescription book and doctor’s stamp from the hospital where she worked.
The conduct occurred between 10 August 2016 and 1 June 2018, during which time she was able to obtain the drugs on 25 occasions. Court documents did not specify whether the nurse had attended different pharmacies or the same pharmacy each time.
On the last occasion, the pharmacy that she attended checked and discovered that the script was not genuine. The pharmacist did not fill the script, and instead reported the matter to the police.
Police attended the nurse’s premises with a warrant, leading her to hand over the doctor’s stamp and a quantity of prescription forms. During an interview, she made extensive admissions. She was charged with a total of 77 offences, including 13 counts of stealing by a public servant; 12 counts of forging; 26 counts of uttering a forged document; 25 counts of fraud; and one count of attempted fraud.
On 2 November 2018, she pleaded guilty to all charges in a Magistrates court and was placed on probation for two years. No convictions were recorded. That same month, she resigned from her then employment at the hospital from which she stole the script book and stamp.
A psychiatrist report revealed diagnoses of bulimia nervosa and major depressive disorder. The nurse had a long-standing problem with concern over her weight and body image, which she kept secret from her family and went untreated. Duromine is used to promote weight loss, and the nurse took it as part of her bulimia to avoid gaining weight, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.
Meanwhile the woman also suffered some injuries for which she was prescribed Endone. The court heard the now 50 year old has since received treatment for her conditions.
The Health Ombudsman characterised the nurse’s behaviour as professional misconduct, which she accepted – as did the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, due to the “element of dishonesty” in the conduct.
In deciding sanctions, the Tribunal considered there had already been an element of suspension as the respondent had been away from the practice of nursing for about 16 months due to the offending. She was reprimanded, but no other sanction was imposed.
“The respondent was ashamed of her behaviour and remorseful,” said the Tribunal.
“The underlying cause of the offending was the respondent’s untreated eating disorder, which has since been treated appropriately. She has made a good recovery and is now regarded by the Board as fit to practice, a matter of significance in terms of the safety on the public,” it said.
“There has been no recurrence of offending and the risk of reoffending is said to be low. The respondent has demonstrated remorse and insight into her conduct. She cooperated with the police investigation, pleaded guilty to the charges and cooperated in this proceeding.”