Nurse suspended by panel after making series of errors

Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Nursing and Midwifery Council. - Credit: Archant

A nurse has been suspended for a year by a disciplinary panel after she was found to have committed a series of errors while working at Papworth Hospital.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which overseas the performance of nurses, ruled that Sally Smith posed a ‘risk of harm to patients’ if left to practise unsupervised and her registration was therefore suspended for 12 months.

The hearing took place in London on September 16 and came after a number of errors involving Ms Smith and her work at Papworth Hospital had been reported.

On two occasions in 2013, Ms Smith failed to administer medication to patients on her rounds of the hospital’s Mallard Ward, which cares for high-dependency patients who have recently undergone surgery.

Despite a ‘buddy’ system being introduced on the ward to prevent further incidents, there were another two occasions in the following months in which Ms Smith failed to administer medication to a patient as prescribed.

As a result of the four incidents, Ms Smith was placed on a competency programme by the hospital.

However, in May 2014, another incident occurred in which Ms Smith was asked to obtain a blood sample from a patient ahead of a surgical procedure but incorrectly collected the sample from a different patient and placed it in a specimen tube belonging to the original patient.

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The error was picked up by staff in the hospital’s laboratory when the specimen was tested and was referred to senior managers, who made Ms Smith subject of a conditions of practice order, meaning her work would be restricted and monitored.

At a meeting to review the conditions of practice order held last month, the disciplinary panel said that Ms Smith had failed to comply with all parts of her order and would, therefore, be suspended.

The panel noted: “The panel acknowledged that Ms Smith has made some efforts to keep her clinical knowledge up to date by completing nine online courses during August 2015 and January 2016, all in relation to the administration of medication.

“The panel found that there remained significant concerns in relation to Ms Smith’s practice, and there is therefore a real risk of repetition and harm to patients if she was permitted to practise unrestricted.

“In all the circumstances, the panel decided that Ms Smith’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The panel also considered that the finding of impairment was required to maintain public confidence in the nursing profession and to uphold proper standards of conduct and performance.”

Ms Smith did not attend the hearing, in London, and was not represented.