Practitioner found guilty of profession misconduct for stealing restricted drugs and making fraudulent entries in medicine registers
An enrolled nurse working in the emergency department of a Queensland hospital has been reprimanded after being caught stealing drugs from her workplace.
The practitioner had worked in the profession since 2009, however she suffered a work injury in 2013 leading to her experience chronic moderate pain thereafter.
As a result she was prescribed Endone and other analgesia such as Panadeine Forte and Tramadol.
On 9 March 2018, the Nurse Unit Manager of the emergency department became aware that the S8 medication Endone had been signed for but not dispensed to a patient by the respondent.
An internal investigation identified discrepancies between medication logbooks and patient records.
These revealed that the nurse had stolen Endone from Emergency Department supplies between October 2017 and late March 2018.
She was also found to have made fraudulent entries in numerous Schedule Medicine Registers during the same period.
The theft occurred on 18 occasions with the practitioner stealing a total of 48 x 5mg tablets of Endone.
On 18 December 2019, the respondent pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court at Bundaberg to one count of false entry in record and one count of stealing by clerks and servants.
She was sentenced by a 15-month probation order including conditions for medical, psychiatric or psychological assessment and treatment and drug and alcohol testing. No convictions were recorded.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found her conduct “constituted a gross breach of the trust reposed in the respondent by her employer, fellow staff and the public [and was] inconsistent with the respondent being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession.”
The Tribunal deemed the practitioner’s behaviour constituted professional misconduct.
She surrendered her registration as an enrolled nurse on 24 November 2018 after the Health Ombudsman commenced an investigation into her conduct.
The Tribunal accepted that her surrender of registration be regarded as a voluntary cessation of practice because of her conduct, and the subsequent non-practice period of more than two years as a “de facto” suspension.
She has had some subsequent employment as a personal care worker and is currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing degree, with a desire to rejoin the nursing profession.
Her current fitness to practice, including her mental health and drug rehabilitation, will be considered by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia upon any application for re-registration, stated the Tribunal.
She was reprimanded, with no order for costs.