This case involved a nurse convicted of criminal offences for stealing Propofol from her employer for the use of suicide while suffering from mental illness during the period of the offending conduct.

Background facts

The respondent held general registration as a registered nurse from 2 May 2013 to 31 May 2017, and then held a non-practicing registration from 3 July 2017 to 31 May 2018. The respondent's non-practicing registration has since expired. On 24 May 2016, the Office of the Health Ombudsman received a notification from the respondent's employer, containing an allegation that the respondent had stolen Propofol from her place of employment, and included an allegation of impairment.

Relevant circumstances

Between 1 April 2016 and 24 May 2016, the respondent stole approximately 138 vials of Propofol, a Schedule 4 Restricted Drug. The Propofol was kept in a locked cabinet, and the respondent had the access code to the safe in which the keys for the cabinet were kept.

The respondent commenced maternity leave on 10 May 2016, and while she was on maternity leave the respondent continued to attend her place for employment, to collect payslips which could have otherwise been sent by post. The respondent continued to have the access code to the safe during this period. On 23 May 2016, the access code to the safe was changed, and an audit was conducted which revealed that a number of Propofol vials were missing and unaccounted for. Later that day, the respondent contacted a staff member of her employer requesting the new access code to the safe.

On 23 May 2016, the respondent's employer made a complaint to the Queensland Police service, who proceeded to execute a search warrant at the respondent's home address on 31 May 2016. The respondent made admissions to stealing Propofol on 20 separate occasions, informing the police that she used the Propofol for the purpose of attempting suicide. The respondent was 8 to 9 months pregnant at the time of offending, and stated that she was not coping with the pregnancy.

The Respondent pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 10 October 2016, and was sentenced to 18 months' probation and no conviction was recorded.

Following Notification, AHPRA required the respondent to undergo a health assessment. Dr Nigel Prior conducted the health assessment, and opined that the respondent suffered from Bipolar Affective Disorder, type II (recently diagnosed), and a Substance Use Disorder (Benzodiazepines, Propofol). The National Board imposed conditions on the respondent's registration on 1 December 2016 so that she could not practice as a registered nurse and was required to undertake treatment with a Consultant Psychiatrist and a Psychologist. The parties agreed that the respondent was suffering from a major depressive illness at the time of the conduct and had a history of mental illness.

Sanction

The parties agreed, and the Tribunal found, that the respondent behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct. Considering the circumstances, the Tribunal was satisfied that no orders were required to preclude the respondent from practice, and that the proposed sanctions by the parties were appropriate.

The Tribunal Held:

  1. (a). Pursuant to s 107(2)(b)(iii) of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), the Tribunal decides that the respondent had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct.
  2. (b) Pursuant to s 107(3)(a) of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), the respondent is reprimanded.
  3. (c) Pursuant to s 66 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), publication of the respondent's medical records and of any other information that may enable the respondent to be identified is prohibited.
  4. (d) Each party bear their own cost of the proceeding.