The cancellation of the registration of a public health nurse who was found to have poor record keeping, including filing screening documents for new-borns, has been confirmed by the president of the High Court.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard some babies under the nurse’s care never made it into the public health surveillance system while in her care.
A Fitness to Practise Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland had made several findings of professional misconduct against the nurse, including that she failed to maintain or file records in a timely manner including new-born screening documentation.
The committee also found the nurse kept records pertaining to one or more clients at her home or in her car when she knew or ought to have known this was not appropriate.
It further found that, over a five-year period at two different health centres, there was a failure by her to file in a timely manner or at all adequate records including new-born screening documentation.
Ms Justice Irvine was told on Monday the Fitness to Practise Committee also found the nurse suffered from a medical disability in respect of obsessional hoarding, or had a history of obsessional hoarding which may impair her ability to practise nursing.
The committee recommended the nurse’s registration be cancelled and stated it considered that advice, admonishment or censure were not sufficient to protect the public, in particular children and new borns.
The cancellation sanction was appropriate because there was no evidence of insight into the seriousness of or the consequences or potential consequences of the nurse’s conduct, it also said.
The public health nurse suffers from a chronic medical disability that renders her unfit and unsafe to work in any area of nursing or midwifery, it considered.
It also found the nurse’s conduct had the potential to cause harm in particular to infants and children.
Despite repeated meetings, advices and training over an extended period of in excess of three years, the committee noted the nurse was unable to remediate her conduct, leading ultimately to administrative leave and retirement on medical grounds.
Potentially, if the nurse was allowed to continue to practise, the committee was satisfied service users were likely to suffer harm, not least by not being referred appropriately or on time or becoming lost in the system because of the nurse’s failures.
Confirming the cancellation of the nurse’s registration, as sought by the board, Ms Justice Irvine said it was of concern to the court to hear some new-borns did not get into the public health surveillance system.