Tribunal disqualifies nurse for six months for professional misconduct

13 Feb 2018

A tribunal has disqualified a former nurse from applying for registration for six months after she admitted to professional misconduct concerning misappropriated drugs.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) reprimanded Ms Simone Margaret Morey and disqualified her from applying for registration for a period of six months.

In May 2014, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) received a complaint about Ms Morey which made a number of allegations concerning missing drugs and inadequate clinical performance. The police subsequently seized the drugs from her home and located hospital prescriptions for other drugs which were suspected to be forgeries. The NMBA took immediate action to ensure that Ms Morey did not return to practise without the NMBA’s approval. That year Ms Morey did not renew her registration and she has not been registered since 3 July 2014.

A police investigation took place and Ms Morey was charged with stealing offences. In July 2015, she pleaded guilty and was ordered to enter into recognisance of $500 on the condition that she be of good behaviour and no conviction was recorded.

In June 2016, the NMBA referred Ms Morey to the tribunal, alleging that she:

  • attempted to misappropriate and/or take Oxazepam (a restricted drug) intended for a patient at the Toowoomba Hospital where she worked, without authority
  • took 15 ampoules of Propofol (a restricted drug) and other paraphernalia (needles, syringes, cannulas and wipes) from the hospital, without authority
  • took two forged prescriptions from the hospital for her own use
  • knowingly presented the forged prescriptions to pharmacies and had them filled/dispensed on at least 5 occasions, and
  • engaged in dishonest and misleading behaviour in relation to her conduct in correspondence to her employer, the hospital and to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) including denying having attempted to misappropriate and/or take the Oxazepam from the hospital and failing to provide an honest and complete explanation as to how she came to be in possession of the forged prescriptions.

Ms Morey made admissions with respect to each of the above allegations, including that her conduct constituted professional misconduct.

The tribunal, in concluding that Ms Morey had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct, commented that her conduct was clearly a significant breach of trust as an employee and a nurse, and was inconsistent with the NMBA’s code of conduct. The tribunal also commented that her acts of stealing drugs, failing to administer to a patient and using the forged prescriptions were dishonest and abhorrent to good nursing practice.

The tribunal considered mitigating factors, including that:

  • Ms Morey’s substance use and attempted suicide using the misappropriated drugs indicate that at the time of the improper conduct she was suffering from a mental illness
  • despite Ms Morey’s early failings to disclose the truth to the NMBA, she had in the proceedings made early admissions and had cooperated with the NMBA such that the matter was able to be heard by the tribunal without an oral hearing, and
  • Ms Morey had demonstrated remorse and insight.

The parties made joint submissions on sanction which were accepted by the tribunal. The tribunal ordered that the practitioner be reprimanded and she was disqualified from reapplying for registration for a period of six months.

The tribunal’s decision is published on the tribunal website.

 
 
Page reviewed 13/02/2018