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Health Pathway - Case Study Three - 3

Assessment and Investigation

The RN was referred for health assessment by a Council approved psychiatrist and a Council approved neuropsychologist to determine whether she had an impairment (either a neurological disorder, drug misuse or other impairment). The neuropsychologist reported that the RN experienced a mild cerebrovascular accident five years ago and that her cognitive capacity was within normal limits. The RN reported to the psychiatrist that she had never misused prescription or illicit drugs.

After considering the advice of the two Council approved health practitioners the Council referred the matter back to the Commission for further investigation, as the nurse had made no admissions and the investigation by her employer was incomplete.

In the course of its investigation the Health Care Complaints Commission reviewed the RN's personal medical records. These indicated the RN had a longstanding history of depression and alcohol dependence and had overdosed on Panadeine Forte and been admitted to an Intensive Care Unit. The overdose event occurred at approximately the same time as the incident reported by her employer occurred. The RN's Medicare records also showed that the RN "doctor shopped" for Panadeine Forte and Valium. Employment records from a previous employer indicated that she had been employed by the previous employer for 20 years and had been found unresponsive in the staff toilet just prior to her leaving that employment.

The Commission's investigation report was referred to its Director of Proceedings to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for a complaint of professional misconduct to be prosecuted before a Tribunal. Prior to the Director of Proceedings making a determination the RN surrendered her registration. Subsequently the Council agreed that the matter be closed and advised AHPRA in writing about the matter so that the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia could take this into consideration should the RN apply for registration at any time in the future.