Dec 12, 2023

“Off her f—ing tree”: Drug-addicted aged care nurse mismanaged patients’ meds

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The nurse was found to have a debilitating drug dependence and a history of depression. [Source: The Border Mail]

An aged care nurse has been banned from practising for at least two years after she was found to have stolen and swapped residents’ prescribed pain medications with over-the-counter substitutes to fuel her own drug habit. 

Last month, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Vivian Mallows had mismanaged patients’ medications, stole medications from the drug safe and worked under the influence of drugs while caring for residents at Yarrawonga Health’s aged care unit in Victoria from November 2019 – June 2020.

The Tribunal found she replaced residents’ restricted medications, such as oxycodone and morphine by substituting the contents of the boxes with different over-the-counter medications such as Gastro Stop and Aspirin.

During the hearing, the Tribunal also found Ms Mallows had ordered medications for herself while pretending it was for six different patients – a total of 100 oxycodone tablets, 50 benzodiazepine pills and 20 morphine capsules in less than three months. 

The medical notes from that shift showed strange sentence structure and spelling and white-out was used to alter the unit’s restricted medication records on that shift.

Ms Mallows was caught after a resident’s family queried pharmacy bills for restricted medications they weren’t aware of. 

She was charged by police with theft, making a false document and obtaining property by deception and pleaded guilty in May 2021. Without conviction, she was then placed on a Community Corrections Order for 12 months and was required to undertake 100 hours of community work.

From November 2017, Ms Mallows was registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

NMBA was a part of the Tribunal hearing and stated that as a result of an investigation that took place in January 2022, “The Board formed a reasonable belief that Ms Mallows engaged in professional misconduct and referred the matter to the Tribunal.”

The former Registered Nurse has not worked since she resigned on June 26, 2020, which was the same day Yarrawonga Health reported her to the regulator. Ms Mallows then self-reported four days later.

The psychiatrist found amongst other things, that Ms Mallows had an impairment which detrimentally affected or was likely to have affected Ms Mallows’ capacity to practice as a nurse. He stated Ms Mallows was battling Opiate Use Disorder, Benzodiazepine Use Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.

The Tribunal ruled Ms Mallows’ behaviour was professional misconduct and would have been banned from practising for longer than two years had she not cooperated with police, pleaded guilty to her charges and made recovery efforts. 

“Having been in the grip of a debilitating addiction […] Ms Mallows has achieved a remarkable and commendable change in her circumstances,” they stated.

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  1. Happens most age care homes. Should have mandatory drug testing. Been a nurse for 20 years seen a lot.

  2. I find this hard to understand. These restricted drugs have rigorous checking by two nurses and altered packaging with an alternative would be noticed.

  3. A two year ban proves that this Tribunal is completely disregarding the safety of patients and residents in Aged Care, Disability Care and similar settings.
    This person should never work in these areas again.

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