21 Jan 2021
A South Australian nurse has been reprimanded by a tribunal and had her registration cancelled for professional misconduct.
After investigating allegations about nurse Margaret Hissey removing a patient’s property, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred a complaint it received on 7 July 2017 to the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal.
In August 2019, the former South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal was dissolved, and the proceedings transitioned to South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).
The NMBA alleged that Ms Hissey had intentionally and dishonestly removed a vulnerable patient’s property (an iPad) by taking it home and gave false and misleading statements to police, her employer, and to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) to justify her actions. The NMBA also took immediate action suspending Ms Hissey’s registration pending the outcome of the tribunal hearing.
The iPad was located at Ms Hissey’s home the day after it went missing. Ms Hissey did not deny that she took the iPad from the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), where she was employed at the time, to her home, however, she claimed it was unintentional and denied any dishonest intent or being untruthful in statements to her employer and Ahpra’s investigators. She was charged by police, with charges later being dropped at the request of the patient’s son after his father had passed away.
Ms Hissey gave evidence before the Tribunal at a hearing on 19 August 2020. The Tribunal ultimately found Ms Hissey had acted intentionally and dishonesty in removing the patient’s iPad from the ward. It followed that Ms Hissey had made false denials in the various statements and interviews.
The tribunal reprimanded Ms Hissey, cancelled her registration and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for five months. The tribunal noted that Ms Hissey had already served a suspension of three years two months as a result of the NMBA’s immediate action and therefore set the period of suspension at five months.
The tribunal categorised Ms Hissey’ s conduct as professional misconduct because it was conduct that was substantially below the standard of conduct to be expected of a practitioner of Ms Hissey’s training and experience.
In addition to the reprimand and cancellation of registration, the tribunal ordered that Ms Hissey pay the NMBA’s costs of the proceedings.
Ms Hissey will need to satisfy the NMBA of her fitness to practise upon any application for registration.
The tribunal’s decision appears on the AustLII website.