A nurse accessed patient records including those of her friends, family and colleagues, despite none being under her care, a tribunal has heard.

The woman, who has permanent name suppression, was a nurse in a North Island health service centre between November 2011 to May 2014 where she inappropriately accessed and viewed 64 patients on 114 occasions.

She appeared at the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in Wellington yesterday.
When the nurse worked at the health service centre, she had access to patient information through a computer system.

Every time an employee logged into the system, a warning about patient confidentiality would appear.


However the nurse continued to peek into patient records of people she knew or recognised - including friends, family, colleagues and colleagues' family members, the tribunal heard.

She looked at one patient's information 17 times.

In April 2013, an investigation began when suspicions grew.

Her employer created an Excel spreadsheet to reveal every unauthorised patient access the nurse had made from the system from November 2012 to April 2013.

In May 2013, the nurse attended a disciplinary meeting where she admitted her actions and employment was subsequently terminated.

Committee lawyer Matthew McClelland said the nurse had inappropriately accessed patient information over a very long period and continued right up until her employment ended.

He said a censure and a fine was appropriate.

The nurse's lawyer, Kiri Rademacher, said the woman had suffered personally and financially because of her actions.

When the nurse accessed the patients' files, it caused them "significant distress", Rademacher said.

She was "deeply ashamed", she said.

Rademacher said the woman now had a new career and had no intention to return to nursing.

Tribunal chairman Ken Johnston indicated the nurse would be censured and her registration suspended for 18 months.

Conditions would also likely be imposed and she would be supervised if she chose to return to nursing.

He also ordered her to complete a course in privacy and ethics.

A formal written decision will be released at a later date.