A nurse has had her registration cancelled by the High Court after being found guilty of professional misconduct over falsifying prescriptions under which she obtained certain medications for her own use.
Despite mitigating factors including the nurse's long work record, that she was going through significant personal difficulties and suffering from depression during the relevant period in 2017, and is considered unlikely to reoffend, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland had concluded, given the seriousness of her admitted misconduct, no sanction short of cancellation of her registration would maintain public confidence in the profession, the court heard on Monday.
High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine said she saw no good reason to depart from the Board's decision and would confirm it. At the request of a solicitor for the Board, the judge also made an order directing nothing may be published which might identify the nurse.
The case arose after a complaint against the nurse was made to the board by a hospital’s director of nursing.
That led to a Fitness to Practice Inquiry earlier this year into allegations of falsifying prescriptions, on dates in February and March 2017, purporting to be from the hospital where she worked and purporting to be from two different consultants for two different patients.
She also admitted presenting the forged prescriptions at a pharmacy which, based on the prescriptions, had dispensed medications to her. As a result of the falsifications, 28 Frumil tablets, a diuretic medication, and 30 Flurazepam tablets, a long-acting benzodiazepine used to treat insomnia, were dispensed to the nurse on each occasion.
The nurse did not attend and was not represented at the inquiry. She had made admissions and the committee found her guilty of professional misconduct, amounting to infamous and disgraceful conduct, and conduct that was dishonest and amounting to a significant breach of trust, arising from the falsification findings.
The committee also found she did not suffer from a relevant medical disability, depression and/or anxiety, such as may impair her ability to practice nursing.
In considering sanction, it considered the nature of the misconduct as well as the mitigating factors, including her admissions, her long record, that she was experiencing significant personal difficulties and depression at the time of the misconduct, and that she had fully cooperated with a consultant psychiatrist.
It concluded the seriousness of the admitted misconduct was such that no sanction short of cancellation would maintain public confidence in the nursing profession and uphold professional standards. Having agreed with that conclusion, and in circumstances where the nurse lodged no appeal, the Board applied for the necessary confirmation order from the High Court.