Nurse who demonstrated ‘woefully substandard’ skills is censured by High Court
Court heard staff at Galway Clinic ‘very quickly’ expressed concerns about his competence
The case arose after the director of nursing at the Galway Clinic notified the nursing board in May 2016 of her concerns regarding the competence and training of Richard Amoako, employed as a staff nurse at the clinic from mid March 2016.
A staff nurse who demonstrated what the High Court described as “woefully substandard” nursing skills, including failure to respond to an anaesthetist’s query whether or not a patient was breathing, has been censured with conditions on his registration should he seek to resume work here.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said it was “astonishing”, given the findings against Richard Amoako, that he had obtained the necessary certificate to practise nursing in Europe from authorities in Finland.
The judge made the comment when granting an application by JP McDowell, solicitor for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, for orders that Mr Amoako be censured with conditions on his registration should be return here.
The registration conditions require Mr Amoako, with an address care of the Presbyterian Church, Ashaiman, Ghana, to successfully complete an approved return to nursing practice course, to notify the Board of the name and address of his employer for a two year period and notify any such employer of the findings against him and sanction imposed.
The case arose after the director of nursing at Galway Clinic notified the Board in May 2016 of her concerns regarding the competence and training of Mr Amoako, employed as a staff nurse at the clinic from mid March 2016.
Mr McDowell said Mr Amoako worked in theatre and the recovery room and concerns about his competence were “very quickly” expressed by theatre and staff nurses and medical practitioners. Although he underwent more training, the problems persisted and he was not retained after mid May 2016.
Lack of competence
A Fitness to Practice Committee of the Board later held an inquiry in which Mr Amoako participated via Skype.
The committee made findings of poor professional performance and non-compliance with a code of professional conduct in relation to certain allegations.
These included he failed on one or more dates to demonstrate adequate knowledge as regards patient airway management, including being unable to describe signs or causes of that to a consultant anaesthetist and failed to respond adequately or at all when the consultant asked whether a patient was breathing or not.
Other findings were that he failed to communicate adequately with colleagues including in relation to handover of patients, failed to properly escalate patient care regarding an unstable patient and incorrectly recorded a patient’s heart rate at 76/80 beats per minute when it was 120/130.
It was also found he failed to recognise or accept he did not have competence to provide safe patient care.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Kelly said it was clear, within three months of Mr Amoako taking up employment at the Galway Clinic, his nursing skills were “woefully substandard” and he was not retained.
The findings by the committee against him demonstrated a “singular” lack of competence and skills concerning various aspect of nursing, including nursing at a “very basic” level.
The Board was recommending censure and conditions having taken into account the findings and that Mr Amoako had co-operated with the inquiry and learned from the experience.
The judge said he would confirm the censure and conditions as they ensured Mr Amoako cannot resume nursing here unless he acquires the necessary knowledge and skills. That would ensure protection of the public, the party most in the court’s thoughts, he said.
He also directed the court’s decision be notified to the nursing authorities in Ghana, Finland and Canada.