A female nurse has been suspended and fined after opening a joint bank account with a male patient, accepting close to $10,000 from him and using this to buy a new car.
The nurse, who was granted interim name suppression, was charged with professional misconduct at the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal over the alleged misconduct between March 2009 and December 2013.
The tribunal’s decision related to the charges said the arrangements appeared to have been entirely consensual and the patient had not complained about the nurse’s actions.
Despite this, the case was considered “very serious”.
“The tribunal considered the time over which the financial arrangements between her and her patient extended, and the number and magnitude of those dealings.”
As a result, the tribunal has censured the nurse and suspended her for a six month period, which started back in August.
Further to this, the nurse would have to pay $8472.92 as a contribution to the tribunal’s costs and $5537.50 as a contribution to the Professional Conduct Committee’s costs.
Upon resuming practice the nurse would only be able to work under the supervision of a Nursing Council staffer.
The charge had three parts – the first being the nurse’s failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with their patient. Her participation in the opening of a joint bank account with the patient, the ongoing operation of that joint bank account and the acceptance by the nurse of various gifts from the patient all contributed to this.
The second aspect of the charge alleged the nurse allowed the patient to help her and her family financially – largely by accepting $9500 from the patient to go towards a car.
The third limb of the charge looked at the nurse accepting money from the patient.
The nurse in question accepted all three aspects of the charge. According to details published in the tribunal’s decision, 18 separate transactions were made between the nurse and her patient.