Background Facts

Rochelle Bain was an enrolled nurse employed at Pennwood Age Care Village (Pennwood Village). During her employment, Ms Bain developed a close friendship with a patient, HD. HD relied on Ms Bain for social interaction and assistance with activities, including taking her out on errands, purchasing items for her and doing her telephone banking. In order to carry out these activities, HD would supply Ms Bain with her bank card and PIN number. Ms Bain also undertook errands and provided assistance to HD on days other than her shift hours, in her own vehicle and contrary to Pennwood Village procedures. As a result of this relationship, HD became attached to and dependent upon Ms Bain.

On 1 May 2017, Ms Bain obtained HD's bank card and a piece of paper which had the PIN number from HD's room without her knowledge or consent. Ms Bain subsequently used HD's bank card to withdraw $1,000 for her own use on two separate occasions. When HD discovered these withdrawals, she phoned Ms Bain who initially denied withdrawing the $2,000. Ms Bain subsequently admitted to taking the money as she was in severe financial difficulty. She asked HD not to tell anyone or to tell the police that she had forgotten she had lent Ms Bain the money.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia referred Ms Bain to the Health Practitioners Tribunal of South Australia (the Tribunal) on the basis that she had engaged in professional misconduct during her employment at Pennwood Village. The alleged grounds of misconduct were:

Ms Bain fostered a personal relationship with HD in conflict with the nursing/patient relationship;

Ms Bain abused this personal relationship by obtaining HD's bank card and PIN number without HD's knowledge, authority or consent;

On two separate occasions, Ms Bain withdrew $1,000 from an ATM using HD's bank card for her own use without HD's knowledge or consent.

Ms Bain admitted to the wrongdoing and accepted that her conduct amounted to professional misconduct. She subsequently repaid the money to HD and resigned from Pennwood Village. She showed contrition for her behaviour and fully cooperated with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's investigation.

Findings

The Tribunal unanimously found that Ms Bain's conduct was a significant departure from the standard expected of nurses of her experience and training and constituted professional misconduct.

Order

The Tribunal ordered Ms Bain be reprimanded, suspended from registration as a nurse for two years and pay the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia's costs of the proceeding.