09 Feb 2024
A South Australian nurse has been disqualified and prohibited from providing health services for six months for failing to give medication to eight vulnerable aged-care residents, incorrectly disposing of medication and falsifying patient's clinical records.
On 31 January 2023, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred Ms Brooke Anne Nelsen to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal) alleging that she failed to give medication to eight vulnerable aged care residents, falsified records stating she had given them the medication (when she did not) and failing to cooperate with the NMBA's investigation, including not providing practice information.
On 10 August 2023, the tribunal found in accordance with a Statement of Agreed Facts filed by the parties. The tribunal found the failure to provide medication and falsification of clinical records each amounted to professional misconduct, with the failure to cooperate with the investigation amounting to unprofessional conduct. The tribunal ordered Ms Nelsen be reprimanded, disqualified from applying for registration for six months and prohibited from providing any health service for six months. Ms Nelsen had surrendered her registration in 2020.
In deciding the appropriate sanction, the matters considered by the tribunal included that Ms Nelsen admitted her conduct after a long period of minimal or no cooperation with the NMBA investigation and resigned from her job rather than attend an investigation meeting required by her employer. The tribunal also took into account the vulnerability of the aged care residents who did not receive their medication, who all had cognitive impairments and/or were non-verbal and needed their medication to treat numerous health conditions.
The tribunal found Ms Nelsen's conduct placed the residents at risk of harm and was a serious failure to observe her duties as an enrolled nurse.
Given the length of time Ms Nelsen has been out of practise, the tribunal considered she would need to retrain before being eligible to again seek registration, and if she were to obtain registration it would be open to the NMBA to place conditions on her registration.
Read the tribunal's full decision on the AustLII website.