Former St Catherine’s Hospice nurse admits misconduct

A former hospice nurse who diluted a morphine injection before giving it to an elderly patient has been given a nine-month condition of practice order.

jpco 10-9-14 St Catherines Hospice (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140909-122356001
jpco 10-9-14 St Catherines Hospice (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140909-122356001

Former community nurse, Susan Avery, was working for the St Catherine’s Hospice in Malthouse Road, Southgate, between February 2013 and May 2014 – caring for patients in their own homes.

Ms Avery faced three misconduct charges which she admitted at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) misconduct hearing from June 16 to 19.

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A report from a Nursing and Midwifery Council Hearing, published today (June 23) states: “On April 9 2014, approximately two months after your return, and on a call when you were unsupervised, it is alleged that you inappropriately diluted and administered a subcutaneous injection of morphine.

“Ms 1, a Health Care Assistant who was with you reported that you appeared extremely nervous and unsure whilst preparing and administering the injection.

“Despite this apparent uncertainty, you still administered the injection and administered it incorrectly.”

On April 17, 2014, Ms Avery inappropriately amended a prescription for 10mg of Bisacodyl – a laxative – to just 5mg after it had been signed by a GP. She then gave the 5mg of Bisacodyl to the patient, instead of the prescribed 10mg.

The panel found Ms Avery’s action fell ‘seriously short’ of the standards expected of a registered nurse. The report said her decision to amend a document signed by a GP was ‘serious enough to amount to misconduct’.

However the panel said Ms Avery had a health condition at the time of the incidents, adding the events were ‘isolated’ in an otherwise ‘unblemished career’.

The panel imposed a conditions of practice order for 9 months and interim conditions of practice order for 18 months.

Ms Avery was asked to complete a medicines management training course to assess injection administration and to meet a supervisor once a month to discuss her performance.

Penny Jones, Director of Care Services at St Catherine’s said: “The nursing team at St Catherine’s Hospice gives vital, high quality end of life care and support to around 1,800 people every year, as well as those close to them. We work hard to train all our colleagues and ensure they are properly supported to do their job to such a high standard.

“The care and wellbeing of our patients is of paramount importance to us and we have robust systems in place to pick up any errors or inconsistencies in prescribing and administering drugs, as in all other areas of our care.”