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Experienced nurse fired over 'wholly unacceptable' restraint of patient under his care

A registered nurse with 30 years of experience has been fired after being found in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights over his unreasonable restraint of a male patient under his care.

Source: istock.com

The man, aged in his 50s at the time of the incident, has been residing in a secure facility operated by the DHB and is a compulsory patient under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992.

The man has an intellectual disability and physical health concerns, including impaired mobility and balance, chronic lung disease and epilepsy. He also uses a walking frame. 

According to a report released today by the Health and Disability Commission, the man complained that he had been assaulted by his primary nurse after being pushed in the dining room at the facility in February, 2018. The nurse said the man had tripped and fell.

When the man was on the floor, the nurse then sat on the man’s body and bounced on him, and did not remove himself promptly from this position. The nurse did not document the man’s fall or report the incident.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall said today in her report that the nurse's actions amounted to an unreasonable restraint. She was also critical of two other staff members who did not report the incident.

"The nurse’s conduct is wholly unacceptable, especially in the case of such a vulnerable consumer, and I am critical of his actions," Wall said.

Wall noted that the DHB had conducted a thorough internal investigation following the incident, and the nurse’s employment was terminated as a result.

Wall recommended that the nurse’s employer, the DHB, provide evidence of recent training to staff on incident reporting; conduct an audit of incidents reported over the last three months to ensure that incidents have been documented appropriately; and review its protocols for staff who notice adverse practises.

She also recommended that should the nurse wish to obtain a practising certificate, the Nursing Council of New Zealand consider his fitness to practise, and that the nurse and the DHB apologise to the man involved.