Background Facts

Ms Trica Anne Shannon was a registered health practitioner as defined in section 5 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Qld) (National Law). She was registered as an enrolled nurse from 5 October 2001 until the surrender of her registration on 13 March 2017. She had no other criminal or notification history.

On 19 May 2016, the Health Ombudsman (Ombudsman) received a notification from Ms Carter’s then employer regarding her conduct. A disciplinary referral was filed in the tribunal pursuant to the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld). Ms Carter filed a response to the disciplinary referral that did not dispute that facts.

From 10 December 2013 to 8 June 2016, Ms Carter was employed as an enrolled nurse at an aged care facility. On 1 May 2016 Ms Carter was providing a health service to a 72-year-old patient confined to a wheel chair with a physical impairment resulting from a stroke. Ms Carter shook the patient’s head from side to side and/or from front to back in a very quick manner and poked the patient’s ribs and pulled her nose.

As a result, Ms Carter’s employment was terminated, and she had not worked as an enrolled nurse since that time. Ms Carter was also charged with and plead guilty to serious assault of a person over 60. She was fined $750 and a conviction was not recorded.

Categorisation of the conduct

The Tribunal noted that the parties jointly submitted that the conduct constituted professional misconduct. The parties jointly submitted that Ms Carter’s conduct in assaulting the patient in her care fell substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner of an equivalent level of training and experience.

The Tribunal also considered that Ms Carter demonstrated insight and remorse, noting that Ms Carter:

  1. made early admissions to having engaged in the conduct to both the police and the office of the Health Ombudsman;
  2. has acknowledged that her conduct was wrong;
  3. has indicated that she is remorseful for her conduct;
  4. has admitted that her conduct amounted to professional misconduct; and
  5. cooperated during the proceedings before the Tribunal, which is consistent with her remorse.

The parties also noted that the conduct would ordinarily justify the imposition of a period of suspension or disqualification from reapplying for registration as a general deterrence. Ms Carter had voluntarily surrendered her registration, and had not been practising since May 2016, therefore the Tribunal did not impose any period of preclusion. Ms Carter’s ongoing studies in a different field outside the health profession also factored into this.

Orders

The Tribunal made the following orders:

  1. Pursuant to s 107(2)(b)(iii) of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), the Tribunal finds Ms Carter behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct;
  2. Pursuant to s 107(3)(a) of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), Ms Carter is reprimanded; and
  3. The parties must pay their own costs of these proceedings.