Former nurse who filmed patients disqualified for eight years

12 Mar 2020

A tribunal has disqualified a former enrolled nurse from applying for registration for eight years for professional misconduct, including filming a distressed dementia patient and sharing the video with her partner and a friend.

On 4 February 2015, Ms Diosa Rankine was working as an enrolled nurse at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. She was assigned to care for an elderly patient with dementia. Ms Rankine used her mobile phone to make a video of the patient appearing distressed in bed, which Ms Rankine showed to her partner and a friend. The video was later uploaded to social media and featured on a television program, though not by Ms Rankine.  

On 9 November 2016, Ms Rankine was charged with one count of engaging in humiliating or degrading filming of others. Ms Rankine was also charged with: 

  • one count of intentionally using a listening device to record a private conversation without consent, and
  • two counts of distributing a moving or still image obtained by humiliating or degrading filming knowing or having reason to believe that the victim did not consent. 

She failed to inform the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) of the charges within seven days, as she was required to do under the National Law.

Ms Rankine’s registration as a nurse lapsed on 1 July 2017 and she has not been registered since that time. 

On 15 May 2017, Ms Rankine pleaded guilty and was convicted by the Adelaide Magistrates Court of engaging in humiliating or degrading filming of others and released on a good behaviour bond for 12 months. Ms Rankine failed to notify the NMBA of the conviction. The other charges made against Ms Rankine on 9 November 2016 were withdrawn. 

On 1 December 2017, the NMBA referred Ms Rankine to the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal concerning the February 2015 video and her failures to notify the Board of the resultant charge and conviction. The NMBA also alleged that:

  • sometime during 2014, Ms Rankine made a video of a second vulnerable patient without consent, and distributed the video on social media
  • on 17 June 2014, Ms Rankine deliberately administered a dose of 100mg of quetiapine to a patient, when the prescribed dose is 50mg, and
  • on 8 February 2013, Ms Rankine tried to obtain prescription medicine illegally from another nurse.

The matter was transferred to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in August 2019.  

Facebook posts that were before the tribunal demonstrated that Ms Rankine claimed to her friends that she commonly over-medicated difficult patients to make them easier to care for.  She claimed that she gave more medication (referred to as ‘happy pills’) than the treating doctor had prescribed. Ms Rankine claimed, and the Board in the end did not dispute, that there were instances of ‘bragging’ to her friends and that the over-medication did not actually occur. The tribunal dealt with the matter on that basis, and found that ground (as amended) and all of the other grounds made out.

The tribunal looked at Ms Rankine’s conduct overall, stating that she had demonstrated absolute disrespect for the needs, dignity and rights of vulnerable patients. The tribunal found that Ms Rankine’s behaviour amounted to professional misconduct and that the totality of the evidence demonstrates serious flaws of character which are inconsistent with Ms Rankine being fit to practise as a nurse.

On 18 October 2019, the tribunal ordered that Ms Rankine:

  • is reprimanded in the strongest terms 
  • is disqualified from applying for registration as a health practitioner for eight years
  • is prohibited from providing any health service for eight years, and 
  • pay $2000 towards the NMBA’s costs. 

The tribunal’s decision is available on the Austlii website

 
 
 
Page reviewed 12/03/2020