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Nurse reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration

23 Jun 2016

A tribunal has reprimanded a former nurse and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for a period of time for professional misconduct.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred Ms Rebecca Anne Greenwood to the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal (the tribunal) because of Ms Greenwood’s conduct over two years in 2011 and 2012. Over this period, Ms Greenwood forged a prescription, stole schedule 4 and 8 narcotic analgesic and benzodiazepine medications from her employers and stole narcotic medication from a client.

The NMBA emphasised that the conduct was aggravated because the last incidents of theft were in breach of an undertaking given by Ms Greenwood to the NMBA approximately two weeks earlier, and in breach of a bond for prior criminal charges (convictions were later recorded). The behaviour also occurred following the NMBA arranged health assessment in which Ms Greenwood had expressed her remorse, yet continued the behaviour despite multiple attempts to intervene and provide assistance.

Counsel for Ms Greenwood submitted that her motivation for her conduct over the two years was her opioid dependence and depression. She participated in the Treatment Intervention Program through the Magistrate Court with a favourable outcome. She now has a new and supportive relationship, apologises for her behaviour and accepts that any future registration will be subject to strict conditions.

Ms Greenwood has not practised as a nurse since giving a second undertaking on 10 August 2012 not to practise and her registration subsequently lapsed on 31 May 2013.

The Tribunal indicated that it regarded the conduct as very serious and a gross breach of trust. It accepted that Ms Greenwood had undergone treatment and taken other steps to address the underlying causes of the behaviour.

The Tribunal delivered an ex tempore decision and reasons, and found the behaviour constituted professional misconduct and ordered the following disciplinary sanctions be imposed:

  1. reprimand, and
  2. disqualification from applying for registration as a nurse for a period of 5 months and 3 days, expiring 10 August 2016 (being four years from the date Ms Greenwood gave an undertaking to the Board not to practise).

The Tribunal also made the following recommendations to the NMBA to take into account when considering any future application for registration by Ms Greenwood:

  1. notify the NMBA of any location of employment
  2. work under direct supervision of a registered nurse when administering schedule 4 and 8 medications for a period of 9 months after return to practice
  3. undergo 12 months of random drug screening after return to practice, and
  4. attend regular appointments with treating practitioners with regular reporting to the NMBA.

The Minutes of Order can be found on the tribunal’s website.

Page reviewed 23/06/2016