17 Feb 2022
A tribunal has cancelled an enrolled nurse’s registration after he breached professional boundaries, including consuming illicit drugs, with a patient.
In August 2016, while Mr Shane Bethune was working as an enrolled nurse at a mental health residential rehabilitation service, he breached professional boundaries with a patient, Mr XY, multiple times.
Among other things, Mr Bethune showed Mr XY his track marks from intravenous drug use, loaned Mr XY cash and allowed Mr XY to stay at his residence overnight. During the overnight stay, Mr Bethune supplied Mr XY with what Mr XY understood to be illicit drugs and consumed illicit substances with Mr XY in circumstances where Mr Bethune knew, or ought to have known, that Mr XY had a history of substance dependency. Mr Bethune also drove patients whilst he was, or there was a risk he was, impaired by the consumption of illicit substances.
In February 2017, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) took immediate action to suspend Mr Bethune’s registration and he had not practised nursing since that time. The NMBA referred Mr Bethune to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal).
The tribunal found that Mr Bethune had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that Mr Bethune:
The tribunal noted that: ‘Mr Bethune’s conduct, especially in providing illicit substances to the patient XY, was directed towards a particularly vulnerable patient under his direct clinical care, putting the patient at risk of harm. The patient was vulnerable due to his age, mental health status, and admission to a facility where he was being treated for substance dependency. Mr Bethune’s conduct was unethical, exploitative, and reckless as to XY’s health. There was a grave breach of trust. The conduct demonstrated that Mr Bethune lacked integrity and insight into the responsibilities of the profession of nursing."
The tribunal’s decision was published in two parts, on 8 April 2020 and 6 December 2021. The decisions are available on the Austlii website here and here.