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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Ex-hospital nurse who put diabetic patient at risk guilty of misconduct

A former nurse at the West Cumberland Hospital has been found guilty of misconduct.

Linda Quinn, who was working on the Jenkin ward at the Whitehaven hospital, was suspended from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) two years ago after concerns over her assessment of a diabetic patient who became “unresponsive” and needed emergency resuscitation.

Mrs Quinn, who now runs a care agency looking after elderly people in their homes, appeared before a two-day disciplinary hearing in London where she was found guilty of misconduct.

Documents from the hearing reveal it centred around an incident on April 5 2011 when a diabetic patient with a low blood sugar level, who had been visited at least three times by Mrs Quinn, became “unresponsive” and required CPR.

Nancy Marsh, representing the NMC, told the hearing that Mrs Quinn told the critical care sister at the hospital the patient had been found in an ‘unresponsive’ state.

She said a matron who visited the patient with Mrs Quinn described how he “looked dead and did not appear to be conscious”.

Mrs Quinn, who had been a nurse for 30 years and had an “unblemished” career, told the panel that “if [she] could go back in time, the first thing [she] would do would be to shout to the healthcare assistant for the blood monitoring equipment and grab it off her if necessary”.

She said she would have pressed the emergency bell to call for help – which she did not do at the time. She said she fetched the crash trolley and started CPR.

“You accepted that, although you arranged for the crash team to attend, you did not push the emergency buzzer to summon assistance when required,” the panel said. “[Ms Marsh] said, in the light of this, you put the patient at unwarranted risk of harm.”

Nadia Miszczanyn, representing Mrs Quinn on behalf of UNISON, said the charges did not relate to Mrs Quinn’s treatment of the patient, but whether she failed to make an adequate assessment and failed to summon help from other staff “at the right time”. She was found guilty of both.

The hearing heard how she had since apologised to the patient and his family, colleagues and the public.

“Although this was an isolated incident, [we] had regard to the fact that this was an emergency situation which required immediate and appropriate action on your part,” the panel said. “It is a fundamental and basic aspect of nursing practice to undertake an assessment of a patient who appears unwell and to summon assistance from registered nurse colleagues. You were an experience band five nurse and should have taken the necessary actions. Your behaviour fell short of the conduct and standards expected and was serious enough to constitute misconduct.”

The panel heard how she had since ‘re-educated and rehabilitated’ herself, and spent time with pharmacists who explained about managing diabetes.

Her lawyer said she may consider a return to registered nursing. The panel imposed three-year sanctions, including requirements that she pass an immediate life support class, remain under the supervision of a line manager and to work all times with a registered nurse of band five or above, plus monthly meetings with a supervisor to discuss her performance.

Other charges relating to administering drugs and glucose were found not proved.

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