A mental health nurse who sexually exploited a vulnerable teenage patient breached his professional code of conduct, the Health and Disability Commission says.
The man, who is in his mid-30s, began texting the 19-year-old female inpatient a week before her discharge from hospital, according to a newly released finding.
They went on to communicate via text message, Skype, Facebook and telephone following the woman's discharge and met up several times.
The text messages became increasingly personal and sexual in nature and the pair had sex less than six weeks after the teen left hospital. The relationship continued for five months.
"Personal relationships between nurses and patients with whom they have previously had a professional relationship are almost always inappropriate," Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said.
The nurse's conduct was "reprehensive and inexcusable" and a breach of his professional and ethical obligations.
Mr Hill also found that the nurse sexually exploited the young woman and did not accept his submission that his health, vulnerability and lack of experience mitigated his failure to maintain professional boundaries.
The nurse was referred to the Director of Proceedings to decide whether further proceedings should be taken. No decision has been made.
The identities of the nurse and district health board that employed him have not been revealed.
The board was not found to be in breach of the code, but Mr Hill said it was concerning that after the nurse disclosed concerns about his own mental wellbeing to colleagues, the board did not follow a formal process to respond to them.