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.”