11 Oct 2022
A tribunal has suspended an enrolled nurse’s registration for professional misconduct after she assaulted an elderly patient.
Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article distressing. If you are experiencing distress, please visit the NM Support website or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help.
On 9 April 2018, Ms Deidre Cook was working as an enrolled nurse at the Wimmera Nursing Home in Horsham, Victoria (the facility). Staff members of the facility witnessed Ms Cook’s use of unnecessary force and inappropriate language with a 92-year-old resident suffering from dementia, putting them at risk of injury.
On 23 May 2018, the facility notified the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) of the incident and their investigation. Ms Cook was then charged with common assault by Victoria Police for the above actions. On 1 July 2019, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria discharged the charge as Ms Cook had successfully completed a Diversion Plan.
Ms Cook’s employment at Wimmera Nursing Home ended in 2018, she has held registration as an enrolled nurse but has not worked as a nurse since.
The NMBA referred Ms Cook to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) for hearing and determination. The tribunal found that Ms Cook behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct and ordered that Ms Cook:
The tribunal observed that ‘general deterrence is of the utmost importance in cases such as this’. Further relevant consideration is ‘the need to maintain public confidence in the standards of the profession by reassuring the public that serious misconduct will be denounced and will not be tolerated’.
The tribunal’s findings and comments reflect a trend of decisions condemning conduct that involves use of unnecessary force on elderly patients.