Sophie Ryan

Sophie Ryan is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Nurse cleared over charge of hitting patient

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A nurse has been cleared of a charge of hitting a patient in her care who has cerebral palsy.

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal heard the charge of professional misconduct and decided it could not be proved that the incident occurred.

The patient was a 23-year-old woman with cerebral palsy and epilepsy who couldn't control the movements of her arms and body and used a communication board to communicate.

The nurse had worked in the institution where the patient lived for a year before the alleged incident.

The nurse was fired from her role after investigations began into a complaint by the patient's foster parent that the nurse hit her and spoke derogatorily to her.

The incident was thought to have occurred in October 2010.

The nurse was feeding the patient when she was alleged to have hit her on the leg.

A witness told the tribunal she had heard the nurse say "for God's sake, will you bloody well keep still while I'm trying to feed you,'' or words to that effect.

Witnesses at the hearing in March 2013 told the tribunal that the patient was rarely known to sit still while the nurse fed her.

The patient had lashed out unintentionally before, and the tribunal found it was likely the nurse put her hand firmly on the patient's leg to keep her still while she fed her.

The difficulties of establishing proof when the patient communicated with a communication board, and had been asked leading questions, arose at the hearing.

The tribunal dismissed the charge.

The identity of the nurse, patient and institution are suppressed.

- APNZ

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