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Pregnant woman given potentially harmful pills

By Imran Ali of the Northern Advocate -
A pregnant woman in Northland was given medicine without a prescription by a nurse who subsequently lost his registration after his conviction for sexually grooming young girls. Photo / Thinkstock
A pregnant woman in Northland was given medicine without a prescription by a nurse who subsequently lost his registration after his conviction for sexually grooming young girls. Photo / Thinkstock

The Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal has fined a disgraced Northland nurse giving a pregnant woman a potentially harmful double dose of medication without authority.

Keith Paul Curry, 47, prescribed 10mg of maxalon and paramax without prescription to a 19-year-old woman while working at the Hokianga Health Centre on July 25, 2009.

The health centre's standing orders did not authorise the administration of the medication to pregnant women because it could harm an unborn child.

The tribunal convened a hearing on the charge in Curry's absence via telephone conference from Auckland yesterday.

Curry, New Zealand's first male Plunket nurse, was convicted in May 2010 of sexually grooming two young girls for sex and his nursing registration was cancelled.

In his affidavit to the tribunal, Dr Michael Bowker said he was the doctor-in-charge of Hokianga Health when the pregnant woman, who has name suppression, came in and complained of vomiting and a sore stomach. She was six weeks pregnant.

Dr Bowker said paramax was normally prescribed for migraines and that he would be reluctant to give the drug to a pregnant woman because of the potential effect on the baby.

Curry did not inform him that the woman had come in, nor did he tell the doctor that he had given her paramax and maxalon, Dr Bowker said.

The patient was admitted to hospital for severe morning sickness two days after Curry saw her.

Dr Bowker said he was horrified when he found out Curry had given the woman the drugs.

Hospital services manager for Hokianga Health Christine Dorsey gave evidence that when questioned, Curry kept saying his partner had taken paramax during her pregnancy and was fine.

"By prescribing one tablet of paramax and one tablet of maxalon 10mg, Mr Curry was effectively providing maxalon 15mg to a woman who was 6-7 weeks pregnant if she had taken these together, which has real patient safety issues," she said.

Ms Dorsey said Curry thought maxalon and paramax were on standing order, but later found they were not.

The tribunal upheld the charge against Curry and ruled:

He pay a $3000 fine and contribute 30 per cent of the cost of investigating and prosecuting the case as well as tribunal's cost;

That he abide by conditions prior to re-joining the Nursing Council of New Zealand if he wishes to work again as a nurse;

Undergo programmes focusing on medication management and administration of medicine under the standing orders;

Be supervised for 12 months if he started work as a nurse.

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