Jun 14, 2022

Aged care nurse who was diagnosed with cancer suspended for stealing painkillers

Aged care nurse who was diagnosed with cancer suspended for stealing painkillers

An aged care nurse who had been diagnosed with cancer has been suspended from practice after she was found guilty of stealing painkillers and using them to treat her own lower back pain.

In a decision recently published by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT), aged care nurse Melissa How revealed that she had been prescribed Endone by doctors to combat her lower back pain and abdominal cramping while she waited for surgery.

Ms How claimed that Endone was not a strong enough form of pain relief and it “did not allow her to function” across an eight-hour shift in her aged care workplace. This is what Ms How claims led her to steal a variety of painkillers from two aged care homes in 2020. 

A report by The Mercury revealed that Ms How stole 43 Panamax tablets, 10 Tramadol tablets, 20 Oxazepam tablets and 33 Panadeine Forte tablets from two separate aged care facilities.

The 49-year-old former nurse also admitted to removing the memory card from a hidden camera that was placed in the medication room at one of the facilities where she worked.

Ms How pled guilty to criminal charges regarding the medication thefts and was fired by her employer over her indiscretions.

Deputy President of TASCAT, Alison Clues, claimed that Ms How’s conduct casts the nursing profession in a negative light amongst the broader community.

“This conduct reflects poorly on the reputation of the nursing profession and damages the public confidence in it,” she said.

Ms Clues also noted that there was no evidence that aged care residents had suffered any harm due to Ms How’s actions and that the accused was “sincerely sorry and remorseful for what she had done”.

Ms How confessed that she had made a “stupid decision” by stealing unprescribed medication from work and that she is very sorry for her actions.

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