08 Jul 2016
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found a former nurse guilty of professional misconduct for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient while she was an inpatient at the hospital where he worked and following her discharge. The Tribunal also barred him from applying for registration for nine years.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred the matter to the Tribunal in January 2015 on the belief that while employed as a registered nurse at a private psychiatric hospital, Mr Isgrove abused his professional position by engaging in the sexual relationship with the patient.
Mr Isgrove, who was aware of the patient’s vulnerability, having previously admitted her to the hospital when she was suicidal, exchanged thousands of text messages with the patient, which became increasingly sexual in nature, including referring to their sexual contact in a nurse/patient setting.
Mr Isgrove was dismissed when the woman’s psychologist reported the improper contact. Following his dismissal, he borrowed $660 from the patient and used his professional knowledge of her vulnerability to force her to deny the relationship to the manager of the hospital, asking her to say she was ‘attention-seeking’.
In its decision, the Tribunal stated that this demonstrated the extent to which Mr Isgrove was prepared to abuse the vulnerability of the patient and the relationship of trust between nurse and patient. The Tribunal also noted Mr Isgrove had not demonstrated any remorse or insight into the matter. Mr Isgrove understood how wrong his conduct was yet he continued it, further exploiting the patient by having her lie on his behalf, denying inappropriate conduct to his employer and denying inappropriate behaviour to AHPRA during the investigation.
The Tribunal stated that it had given consideration as to whether Mr Isgrove should ever be able to practice again. It concluded that Mr Isgrove may be able to satisfy the NMBA at some time in the future that he is a fit and proper person to practise the profession of nursing in some context. However, it found that Mr Isgrove engaged in boundary violations of the most serious kind and had sexually exploited a person whom he knew to be among the most psychologically vulnerable in the community.
The Tribunal ordered that Mr Isgrove should be prohibited from applying for registration for a period of nine years. It also ordered him to pay the costs of the NMBA.
The NMBA Chair Lynette Cusack said ‘The role of the NMBA is to protect the public. A registered nurse taking advantage of a vulnerable patient is something we take extremely seriously. Patients have a right to good and safe care.’
Anyone with concerns about the conduct of someone working as a registered health practitioner should contact AHPRA immediately.