Tribunal suspends nurse who breached professional boundaries

11 Dec 2019

A tribunal has suspended a registered nurse after she admitted to engaging in professional misconduct.

The State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia (the tribunal) reprimanded Ms Jennifer Cassidy and suspended her registration for 18 months after she admitted engaging in professional misconduct, including by violating professional boundaries with two patients and supplying those patients with medication without authorisation.

Ms Cassidy admitted breaching professional boundaries with the two patients (who, at the time, were aged 18 and 20) while she was employed as a nurse at a private psychiatric hospital. Ms Cassidy communicated with the patients outside of their treatment at the hospital, including by sending the patients ‘Snapchat’ and text messages which included content that was unrelated to their treatment and inconsistent with a professional relationship. Ms Cassidy also admitted that she took the patients camping with her and her then partner for two nights and purchased cannabis from the brother of one of the patients.

Ms Cassidy additionally admitted that she provided the two patients with Schedule 4 medications, including lorazepam and diazepam, when she was not authorised to do so. Ms Cassidy further admitted misappropriating lorazepam and diazepam tablets from the hospital.

On 19 December 2018, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and Ms Cassidy agreed the terms on which the matter could be resolved. Ms Cassidy admitted the facts and agreed that her conduct constituted professional misconduct.

The tribunal reprimanded Ms Cassidy and suspended from practice as a registered nurse for 18 months. Conditions, which will take effect once the period of suspension is over, were also imposed on Ms Cassidy’s registration prohibiting her from any non-clinical communications with patients and requiring her to undertake education and mentoring. Ms Cassidy was also ordered to pay $4,000 towards the NMBA’s costs.

The tribunal noted there were extensive mitigating factors in this case, including (among other things) that Ms Cassidy is deeply remorseful and apologetic for her conduct, has no disciplinary history, and has been working full time as a carer in an aged care facility (since her dismissal from her nursing role) where she has been commended by her employer.

Read the full decision on the eCourts website.

 
 
Page reviewed 11/12/2019