Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Nurse fined $30k over mistreatment

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A senior nurse who roughly undressed an elderly mental health patient, made derogatory comments about her, left her sitting naked in a bath and kneed her in her back has been fined nearly $30,000.

Paul Jury was fired from his role at the Mental Health Inpatient Services Unit at Hastings Hospital after the November, 2010, incident.

On the day of the incident, the 76-year-old patient, who has name suppression, was in an agitated state in the unit where she was staying, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal said in its newly released findings.

She had a significant mental illness as well as multiple physical conditions.

A nurse told the tribunal she discovered the woman walking down a hallway "covered in faeces".

Mr Jury and another nurse attempted to take the patient's clothes off so she could have a bath, but she resisted.

The second nurse told the tribunal Mr Jury was rough with the woman, including repeatedly and forcefully pushing her head towards her chest with his hand.

The first nurse was concerned Mr Jury was going to "break [the patient's] neck because of the force he was applying".

The woman was bathed but then left in the drained bath for about five minutes because she was still agitated and was throwing soiled facecloths. One of the nurses said Mr Jury then made demeaning comments such as: "oh, I couldn't imagine living like that".

When the woman was being walked to her room, one of the nurses said she twice saw Mr Jury put his knee into the woman's back causing her to arch her back and cry out.

Mr Jury said he only applied his thigh to her leg to keep her moving.

"Unfortunately it appears that Mr Jury's frustration overcame his professional judgment in the particular situation which arose, and the patient was placed at risk through the use of excessive force," the tribunal said.

In a separate tribunal decision, a nurse has been censured and had her nursing registration suspended for texting a prison inmate and trying to provide him with tobacco.

Kim Newman was working as a nurse at Springhill Prison in Waikato in 2011 when a police investigation found she had exchanged more than 80 texts with a prisoner over six days and had conspired to bring him tobacco.

She was sentenced to six months community detention and 400 hours of community work, which was changed on appeal to the High Court to six months home detention.

Ms Newman told the tribunal she had only gone along with the plan to bring the inmate tobacco because she was afraid for her safety.

"The extent and nature of the text messages showed a serious and sustained lack of professional judgment by Ms Newman in her role as a registered nurse working for the Department of Corrections," the tribunal said.

Disciplinary action:

• Mr Jury

- fined $27,350;

- censured;

- ordered to take a course in managing escalating situations; and

- six months supervision on returning to nursing.

• Ms Newman

- censured;

- nursing registration suspended for three months;

- ordered to take an approved course; and

- fined $4622 in costs.

- APNZ

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