A sick woman has expressed shock at having a Hamilton nurse - who also happened to be her ex-husband's new wife - look at her medical notes without permission.

The nurse accessed the woman's notes on 16 occasions and even made alterations, changing the postcode of the woman's address and the details of oneof her next of kin, a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal found.

The woman, who cannot be named in order to protect her privacy, said she had not asked her ex-husband's wife to provide her care or support during her illness but the nurse had tried to become involved.

The woman told how the nurse on one occasion obtained a wheelchair for her and made an appointment with a doctor.


During the appointment, the doctor asked the woman if she wanted the nurse to sit in on the consultation.

"She said she definitely did not want this as the practitioner was her ex-husband's wife and had nothing to do with her care," the disciplinary tribunal's report authors said.

The nurse will have to undertake training in ethics, patient privacy and confidentiality. Photo/Supplied
The nurse will have to undertake training in ethics, patient privacy and confidentiality. Photo/Supplied

The experienced nurse, who had been registered since 1997, told the tribunal it was never her intention to hurt the woman and she was very sorry.

She said the ill woman's daughter - who was also the nurse's step-daughter - had come to live with the nurse and her husband some years ago and that the two families had been on an overseas holiday together just after the woman was diagnosed with an illness, which had a "terminal nature", according to the decision.

The nurse's lawyer told the tribunal, the woman had given the nurse permission "through her words and deeds" to access her clinical records and assist her with her medical condition.

The tribunal found the nurse had never deliberately disregarded the privacy of her husband's ex-wife.

However, it said the woman was never under the nurse's care.

"As such, she accessed the records when she ought to have known she had no authority to do so," the tribunal found.

"This is a case of neglect of professional duty rather than any wilful disregard for the patient interests."

It handed the nurse a three-month suspension and ordered her to undertake further training in "ethics, patient privacy and confidentiality" within six-months of resuming work.