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Inappropriate sexual relationship with patient (06HDC18422)
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(06HDC18422, 14 May 2008)
nurse ~ Mental health unit ~ District health board ~ Professional
boundaries ~ Sexual relationship ~ Rights 2, 4(2), 4(4)
A complaint was made regarding the
conduct of a psychiatric nurse toward a patient in a mental health
unit. Several internal complaints were made by the nurse's
colleagues in relation to his non-observance of standard practices
aimed at protecting vulnerable female patients such as the young
woman. The nurse admitted having had a sexual relationship with the
It was held that the psychiatric
nurse's conduct towards the woman clearly transgressed professional
boundaries and was in breach of ethical standards, and breached
Rights 4(2) and 4(4). His conduct amounted to sexual exploitation
as well as a departure from ethical standards, and was therefore in
breach of Rights 2 and 4(2).
It was held that the district
health board responded promptly and appropriately to the
allegations about the psychiatric nurse's relationship with the
patient. Senior nursing staff were sufficiently concerned that he
could pose a risk of harm to the public that the Nursing Council
The matter was referred to the
Director of Proceedings, who considered the matter and laid a
charge before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. The
Tribunal concluded that the actions of the nurse amounted to such a
significant departure from accepted standards that discipline was
warranted, and it upheld the charge of professional misconduct.
The Tribunal imposed the following
penalties: censure, cancellation of registration, and the
imposition of a number of conditions on any application the nurse
might make to re-register with the Nursing Council of New Zealand.
An order for costs of $7,500.00 was also made.
The Director decided not to issue
proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
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