Tribunal believes nurse made poor decision but overturns suspension

06 Jun 2018

A tribunal has formed a reasonable belief that a nurse restrained a patient in an unacceptable way, but has upheld her appeal against suspension.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) had made an immediate action decision on 12 February 2018 to suspend Ms Taruna Mehta’s registration while investigating allegations that she had restrained an elderly patient in an unnecessary and unacceptable way. It was alleged that Ms Mehta had tied the hands of an elderly patient to a bed rail with a sheet. Whether the patient was tied to the bed in the manner alleged was disputed by Ms Mehta.

Ms Mehta appealed her suspension to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal). The tribunal formed a reasonable belief that Ms Mehta had engaged in the conduct as alleged and that the form of restraint of the patient was both unnecessary and applied in an unacceptable form. The tribunal believed that Ms Mehta had made a poor decision in the circumstances.

However, the tribunal did not believe that Ms Mehta poses a serious risk to patients. In forming this view the tribunal had regard to a number of factors including:

  • that the patient was extremely unwell and agitated and Ms Mehta was trying to ensure the patient’s cannula was protected against further removal and the need for distressing reinsertion
  • Ms Mehta has an otherwise unblemished record working in similarly challenging circumstances, and
  • Ms Mehta stated that she would never take such an action again which the tribunal accepted. The tribunal believed that should Ms Mehta be faced with similar circumstances again, she would instead do what she ought to have done which is to seek assistance.

Accordingly, the tribunal set aside the decision of the NMBA to take immediate action.

The tribunal noted that its decision does not limit the NMBA’s ongoing investigative process or capacity to take further steps at the end of the investigation, including referral to the tribunal for disciplinary proceedings.

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

 
 
Page reviewed 6/06/2018