24 Aug 2023
A tribunal has suspended and imposed conditions on an enrolled nurse’s registration after he used unnecessary physical force on a mental health patient.
On 28 August 2019, Mr Duncan Jones was working at the Mental Health Adult Acute Admission Unit at Frankston Hospital where he attempted to break up what he considered an inappropriate conversation that Patient A was having with Patient B. In an attempt to distract Patient A, Mr Jones placed a clipboard between the two patients and flicked Patient A’s cap.
After failing to redirect Patient A’s attention, Mr Jones pushed Patient A away from the couch and with an open hand to the side of the head, forcefully pushed Patient A causing him to fall to the ground.
After the incident, Mr Jones incorrectly recorded that Patient A ‘ran at the writer’ and after he redirected Patient A away from him, Patient A ‘took a controlled fall to the floor’. Mr Jones did not mention that he had made contact with Patient A’s head.
Following the incident, the hospital suspended Mr Jones and notified the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). The NMBA referred Mr Jones to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) for the failure to engage in appropriate de-escalation techniques and inaccurate and misleading clinical records.
The tribunal found that Mr Jones had engaged in a way that constitutes professional misconduct and ordered that he:
The tribunal noted that ‘there is a need for a reprimand to make it clear to Mr Jones and the wider nursing profession that conduct of type the subject of the allegations in this proceeding will not be tolerated. It is necessary to bear in mind that a reprimand is not a ‘trivial penalty’; rather, it represents a ‘serious form of censure and condemnation’. Similarly, the tribunal observed that suspension was appropriate to ‘make it clear to the nursing profession that conduct of this nature will not be tolerated and will give rise to consequences that may include a period out of practice’. The tribunal noted that a suspension would also ‘assure other patients with mental health issues – and their families – that appropriate standards are maintained in mental health settings’.
The tribunal’s decision was made on 6 May 2022 and is published on the AustLII website.