08 Dec 2023
A tribunal has suspended a nurse’s registration for nine months after she improperly issued a prescription using a medical practitioner’s name, allowed herself to be held out as a nurse practitioner on her practice website when she did not hold such an endorsement and misled regulators during the investigation.
On 22 November 2016, Mrs Shirley Lockie consulted with a patient, made treatment recommendations, and accessed the clinical records system of the practice using the details of a medical practitioner to issue a prescription for the patient in the name of the medical practitioner. She did not hold registration as a medical practitioner and knew that she was not authorised to prescribe Schedule 4 medicines herself or on behalf of a medical practitioner.
On 29 May 2017 the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) received a notification regarding the above. The OHO received two further notifications that Mrs Lockie was holding herself out as a nurse practitioner on the practice website while she did not hold an endorsement as a nurse practitioner. The OHO referred the three matters to Ahpra and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
Mrs Lockie also provided false and misleading information to both OHO and the NMBA in written submissions during the investigation and deliberately failed to comply fully with a compulsive notice for the production of documents under the National Law.
In June 2021 the NMBA referred Mrs Lockie to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).
The tribunal found that Mrs Lockie had engaged in a way that constitutes professional misconduct and ordered that she be reprimanded and have her registration suspended for a period of nine months from December 2022.
The tribunal considered that the most serious conduct was the provision of false and misleading information to regulators and the failure to comply fully with the compulsive notice. Mrs Lockie had lied over a number of years about her conduct to actively and knowingly mislead regulatory bodies.
The tribunal was not satisfied that Mrs Lockie had deliberately described herself as a nurse practitioner however noted that it is a serious use of a protected title and once she knew, she should have taken steps to correct the record.
The tribunal determined a period of suspension was appropriate, noting this was ‘a strong denunciation of health practitioners who choose to mislead regulators and engage in dishonest conduct for whatever reason’.
The decision of the Tribunal was made on 21 November 2022 and is available on AustLII.