After stealing a dead nursing home resident’s debit card and proceeding to purchase items for himself and his family, a Queensland nurse has now been formally reprimanded for professional misconduct.
The Courier Mail reports the card was owned by a Brisbane man who had passed away three days prior, he had been a resident at the care home where the nurse worked.
During the proceedings before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, an initial version of events told that nurse Ariel De Leon Salvador had been employed as a personal care assistant when he came across the card in the staff room on the floor.
However, when De Leon Salvador pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and stealing, Southport Magistrates Court was told for the first time that the nurse, when going through the dead resident’s belongings in his room, had intentionally removed the card.
De Leon Salvador was directed by the magistrate to undertake 100 hours of unpaid community service and pay the full restitution amount of $246 for the offences committed in 2020, however the convictions were determined not to be recorded.
The magistrate pronounced De Leon Salvador’s behaviour as “vile, despicable, cold and calculating’’.
Disciplinary charges were brought by the Health Ombudsman before the tribunal due to the nurse’s pleas of guilty in regards to fraud and stealing, and additionally due to his failure to alert the Nursing Board of his charges and convictions.
The nurse, 49, had been employed at the residence for four years, stated before the tribunal that his conduct was opportunistic and fueled by his hope of assisting his family.
However one of the tribunal judicials members noted that the unfolding of the theft occurred within the overarching duration of the nurse’s employment, and that he would clearly have been aware the debit card was owned by the resident in his care who had passed away.
The member commented, “The conduct involved a very serious breach of trust, not only that invested in him by his employer, but the trust of some of the most vulnerable people in his care and of their families.’’
Further discussion highlighted that it was not appropriate to describe the events as an opportunistic crime due to the nurse having retained the card for use days after the theft, and having utilised it in five separate instances.
De Leon Salvador, who obtained his initial tertiary nursing qualifications from the Philippines, went on to receive a NSW TAFE certificate in aged care and a Bachelor of Nursing from Tasmania, he was only recently approved for a provisional nursing registration in July of 2019.
De Leon Salvador put in his resignation in May of 2020, and in the following June, the Health Ombudsman handed down an interim prohibition order, significantly reducing where the nurse could work.
He gave up his registration in September 2021, and has subsequently been employed as a disability support carer, he did however indicate to the tribunal that he planned to reapply for nursing registration in the future.
As of February 25, 2022, the tribunal directed that De Leon Salvador be reprimanded for professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct, however they would not be moving forward with the interim prohibition order.