Darren Snow, instructed by the Bar Pro Bono Unit, acted for nurse GC at misconduct proceeding before the Nursing & Midwifery Council earlier this month. Following a 3-day hearing before the Fitness to Practice Committee the panel found no misconduct or dishonesty. GC was able to return to nursing with an unblemished record and no sanction.
GC faced allegations of misconduct concerning the administration of the controlled drug oxycodone and dishonesty in respect of subsequent record keeping whilst on duty at a Care Home.
GC had originally been acting on her own in the proceedings and had admitted all charges in her initial dealings with the NMC including an allegation of dishonesty. As she was not a member of a union or the Royal College of Nursing the BPBU took on her case and Darren, who is one of Charter’s BPBU panel members, agreed to act for her. Darren is a member of Chambers’ professional disciplinary team and has acted for nurses in many NMC cases. Following an initial meeting to give some basic advice and guidance her admissions were withdrawn as he formed the view that there was a defence and no dishonesty – GC had not appreciated she could challenge the NMC’s allegations.
As the charges were serious and potentially career ending, Darren agreed to also act pro bono in the substantive hearing. At the 3-day hearing in July it was established that the nurse’s actions were taken in the patient’s best interest. GC had been the only nurse on duty on a floor of 37 high dependency patients. Normally she would work with another nurse and 8 – 10 care workers – that day there was no second nurse and only 4 care workers. Her manager was off site. It was accepted by the panel that as the sole nurse on duty it would be a challenging shift to manage. Faced with a resident in significant pain GC administered the prescribed pain killer oxycodone to the patient, which he had been receiving regularly. Believing she was the only nurse on duty at the home it was impossible to comply with the requirement for a second nurse to counter sign and delaying the pain killer medication was not in the patient’s best interest. The panel accepted GC had tried to call her line manager, who did not answer, for assistance. GC reported what she had done to her manager as soon as the manager arrived at the home later in the shift. Professional references showed a hard-working and committed nurse with no history of misconduct. Evidence also revealed that later in the same shift GC had administered the oxycodone drug a second time – a per procedure, with a second nurse, who was by then on duty.
The NMC panel found GC honest and consistent in her evidence. Whilst not condoning the nurse’s actions they accepted that she had made decisions using her clinical judgment in what she believed was the patient’s best interest at the time. There was no misconduct, no dishonesty and no impairment.
Charter Chambers has a long commitment to pro bono work with members involved in numerous community and charity projects alongside involvement in pro bono legal work. In recent years we have become a leading set for defence work before the NMC acting for the Royal College of Nursing and various nursing unions. We have a strong commitment to providing the best advice and representation to nurses coming before their regulator, inquests and criminal courts. For any further information on our services please contact James Hall, Senior Clerk.
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