15 Dec 2020
A nurse has been reprimanded for engaging in professional misconduct by submitting false documentation to support an application for a skilled migration visa.
On 17 February 2017, Ms Ruvimbo Fellowes, an enrolled nurse, sent the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) a letter which she helped create, on falsified letterhead, with a forged signature, purporting to have been prepared by her employer.
In a separate allegation on 23 October 2017 in another place of employment, Ms Fellowes was alleged to have ‘pre-filled’ medication charts for 10 residents.
On 19 February 2019, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred the allegations to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
VCAT found the fraudulent letter from Ms Fellowes to ANMAC constituted professional misconduct. VCAT noted that while the information about Ms Fellowes work experience may have been accurate, the letter had not been prepared by her employer. VCAT also found that Ms Fellowes’ prefilling of medication charts had the potential to create a real risk to patient health and this amounted to unprofessional conduct.
The NMBA sought suspension of Ms Fellowes’ registration for six months, submitting it was an appropriate sanction given the serious nature of the misconduct and the need for specific and general deterrence.
VCAT held that a reprimand was appropriate; however, decided to not impose a suspension, having regard to a number of mitigating factors. Ms Fellowes had admitted to both sets of conduct, had cooperated in the investigation, and shown genuine remorse and improved understanding. Ms Fellowes had also undertaken a two-day course in law and ethics run by the ANMF in May 2017, and courses in medication administration. Due to the disciplinary proceedings, Ms Fellowes had already spent three months ‘removed from practice’.
The decision is published on the Austlii website.