Tribunal disqualifies nurse for five years for failing to maintain professional boundaries

07 May 2020

A tribunal has cancelled an enrolled nurse’s registration and disqualified him from reapplying for registration for five years after he had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient.

In November 2011, Mr Stephen Sedgman was part of a mental health treatment team for Patient X, an inpatient at the hospital where he worked. Patient X had been admitted to the hospital three times in total that year following suicide attempts.

Following Patient X’s discharge from hospital, a sexual relationship developed between her and Mr Sedgman. The relationship lasted almost six years, ending around December 2017.

In the course of the relationship, Mr Sedgman had conversations with Patient X that adversely impacted on her perception of being able to access care within the hospital’s organisation.  As a result, Patient X experienced significant distress and difficulties in accessing acute care during times of crises.

In February 2018, Patient X disclosed Mr Sedgman’s name to her treating psychologist, who made a notification to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

In March 2018, the NMBA took immediate action to suspend Mr Sedgman’ registration. The NMBA subsequently referred Mr Sedgman to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).

The tribunal took into account that Mr Sedgman’s conduct had involved multiple breaches of the Code of professional conduct for nurses in Australia (2008) and had a severe, adverse impact on Patient X’s health.

The tribunal found that Mr Sedgman’s conduct constitutes professional misconduct, reprimanded him, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from re-applying for five years.

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

Page reviewed 7/05/2020