Apr 24, 2023

Registered Nurse suspended for not stopping patient’s sexual comments

A South Australian nurse has been suspended over her failure to appropriately manage her relationship with a quadriplegic patient who had been making highly inappropriate sexual comments.

The Registered Nurse (RN), who had personally cared for the man during a 10-year working relationship, was referred to the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) last year after complaints were made over her conduct.

SACAT heard evidence that the man had been making inappropriate comments for six or seven years, and it was alleged his actions were attributable to a developing neurological condition.

According to The Advertiser, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia referred the complaint to SACAT last year after the nurse allowed her patient to continue acting inappropriately, while on at least one occasion she responded by blowing him a kiss.

“The respondent in providing care to [the patient] allowed a situation to develop in which [the patient] was regularly making highly inappropriate sexual comments to the respondent,” SACAT said.

SACAT found that her actions equalled professional misconduct, that she caused damage to his marriage and interrupted his care as she “exacerbated the situation by making inappropriate personal disclosures concerning herself”.

“Quite clearly, the relationship during this period had become an inappropriate relationship, and the relationship was perceived by (the patient) in a way that was completely unprofessional and inappropriate,” SACAT said.

“It was the duty of the respondent as a Registered Nurse to recognise the significance of that change in behaviour and to record the situation that had developed and to properly report the situation that had developed to her superiors so that it could be ensured [the patient] received proper care and treatment.”

The RN was ordered to pay costs of $5,000, while her registration was suspended for two months. She was required to go through further education about maintaining professional boundaries to achieve re-registration.

During the hearing, the nurse allegedly expressed remorse and revealed she was increasing her own education and awareness of professional boundaries. 

“We consider that she requires further education and training in the areas of maintaining appropriate boundaries, in assessment of patients or clients, and in record-keeping and reporting of relevant issues,” SACAT said.

“The respondent’s conduct during this period of time fell substantially below the standard of conduct to be expected from a person of her training and experience and therefore constitutes professional misconduct.”

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  1. Firstly…..please inform the readers exactly what neurological problems the patient has, and advise who made the accusation of ‘blowing a kiss’ to the patient.
    I know there can be a fine line in caring for a person with a neurological condition and trying to maintain a level of control with the suffering patient.
    Whether the (nurse) acted outside the boundaries or was just trying to maintain control is not know by the readers.
    Furthermore, what amount of input from professionals would have made a difference to the innapropriatness of the patient actions towards the nurse?
    Yes, I agree, training is necessary to overcome certain innapropriatness from patients, but in saying this, the patient may have a condition that cannot be changed.
    So in which way should the carer respond, without causing a negative and sometimes hostile response from the patient.
    I’m sure this report is open to much discussion

  2. There has been increasing news articles about nurses who are being disciplined.

    It is a good teaching moment for student nurses and practicing nurses.
    This however, can be role of educators in facilities to access such cases which is usually available to the public on whatever regulatory college website.

    The general media seemingly highlighting the negative actions of nurses serves what purpose?
    I think to create an image to the general public that nurses are less than trustworthy and more so aren’t worth the compensation, so in a climate where nurse shortages is an issue and underpaid nurses are stretched thin when they complain the public will already have a negative image and wonder why the complaints?

    I mean the amount of nurses disciplined for a poor job pales in comparison to the amount of nurses who go above and beyond to do excellent service but those are never highlighted.

  3. That was very unjustly judgesd because she thaught it was a therapeutic gestures towards psychopathologically patient that might help him to resilience.

  4. This is so touching…….I feel for the nurse but I pray she learns from her mistake…..

    1. Her only mistake is existing in a society where the upper echelons are actively making people less than human only to suit there own greedy and selfish intentions

  5. I’m sure the patient felt a great sense of love and happiness having that nurse looking after him all those years and it was more than likely the patients wife that could not cope with her own inadequacies that ultimately led to the persecution of this fantastic nurse.

  6. As someone who worked in the care sector, and who was often sexually harassed, groped,kicked, punched, hit, with NO protection because all protection is for the vulnerable resident/patient this pisses me off. Sometimes you have to joke around a little to manage their behaviours but you can’t control what they say or think.
    I really feel for this RN. Sounds like she was in a difficult situation managing challenging behaviour with little back up and has been made a scapegoat.

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