Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Tribunal reprimands nurse for theft and importing an unauthorised poison
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Tribunal reprimands nurse for theft and importing an unauthorised poison

31 Jan 2024

A Victorian nurse who misappropriated cannulation items from her employer to administer an imported Schedule 4 poison, has been reprimanded by a tribunal and had mentoring conditions imposed on her registration.

In March 2022, registered nurse Joanna Remandaban was referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) for misappropriating various cannulation items from her employer and for obtaining, supplying and administering Glutanex-Drip to herself and a friend, also a registered nurse.

Glutanex-Drip is a schedule 4 poison commonly used for whitening the skin. The poison is not authorised for use in Australia and Ms Remandaban imported the Glutanex-Drip in June 2019 without the necessary Therapeutic Goods Administration approval, or a prescription from a medical practitioner.  

While on a nightshift at a hospital in June 2019, Ms Remandaban stole cannula equipment so she could administer the Glutanex-Drip to herself and a friend. After her employer found out about the theft, Ms Remandaban was immediately stood down. Her employment was subsequently terminated, and the hospital notified the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.  

Following an investigation, the NMBA suspended Ms Remandaban’s registration in February 2020. The suspension was lifted in February 2022 when the NMBA accepted submissions from Ms Remandaban that her circumstances had changed, including that she had reflected on her professional responsibilities, engaged a clinical nurse educator as a mentor and done further education.  

In March 2022, the NMBA referred the matter to tribunal. The tribunal found that Ms Remandaban’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct and ordered that she: 

  • be reprimanded, and
  • have conditions imposed on her registration requiring her to attend mentoring.

The tribunal commented that honesty and trustworthiness are fundamental requirements for any registered professional, and that nurses must be able to be trusted to have unfettered and unsupervised access to valuable equipment and stock. The property misappropriated by Ms Remandaban comprised cannulation items, which were relatively low value items. While this was relevant to the determinations, it did not alter the fundamentally unethical nature of the conduct of stealing from an employer. 

The tribunal held that the need for general deterrence had been adequately addressed by the two-year immediate action suspension already served by Ms Remandaban and did not impose any further period of suspension. 

Ms Remandaban has returned to practice and a report to the tribunal from her mentor said Ms Remandaban had been punctual, professional and responsive to feedback. It was the mentor’s belief that Ms Remandaban no longer posed a risk to the public. 

The full decision is decision on the AustLII website.

Page reviewed 31/01/2024