03 Aug 2023
A tribunal has found that an enrolled nurse engaged in professional misconduct when she practised at two regional health services. Australian government principles were in place that prevented her from working at multiple sites.
She misled one service as to the nature of her work at the other service. She also worked at the second service after an outbreak of COVID-19 at the first service and before getting tested.
The nurse’s conduct had the potential to put other staff and patients at increased risk of COVID-19 infection. When she subsequently tested positive to COVID-19 the second service was declared to have an outbreak and went into isolation.
Under the Australian government orders, in identified areas, aged care employees working in two or more facilities were required to limit their work to a single site, being the facility at which they worked the most.
The first service operated both an aged care unit and an acute hospital in Koo Wee Rup in Cardinia Shire. The second was an aged care service in Junction Village in the City of Casey. Both services were in local government areas the Victorian Government had identified as hotspots.
On 4 May 2023, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) handed down its decision.
The tribunal found that the nurse had engaged in professional misconduct in that:
The tribunal agreed a reprimand was necessary and appropriate for general deterrence and to be sure that health practitioners will comply with public health requirements. The nurse ought to have complied with the clear directives from public health officials and her managers given the serious, unprecedented nature of the pandemic and its ongoing management.
As she had been suspended for just over two years from October 2020 to November 2022 and unable to practice, when the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the NMBA took immediate action) a reprimand, not a further suspension, was sought and granted.
The nurse showed remorse and insight.
The tribunal’s decision was made on 4 May 2023. Read the full decision on AustLII.