On 23 August 2019, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) found a registered nurse, Kylie Louise Le Garde, guilty of professional misconduct for failing to notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) that she had been charged and convicted of criminal offences.

Background Facts

Ms Le Garde was a registered nurse who obtained a Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2000 and was first registered on 15 August 2000. Ms Le Garde was the subject of previous disciplinary action in 2008. The Health Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) alleged Ms Le Garde had engaged in three counts of professional misconduct. The three charges arose from the following conduct alleged and admitted by Ms Le Garde to constitute professional misconduct:

  1. a conviction in the District Court at Mackay on 11 September 2012 for one count of burglary and commit an indicatable offence contrary to s 419(4) of the Criminal Code (Charge 1 – professional misconduct);
  2. failure to notify the National Board, within seven days of becoming aware of a relevant event, in breach of s 130(3)(a)(i) of the National Law. The relevant events that Ms Le Garde's failed to notify the National Board of included that on 14 February 2012 she had been charged with an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, namely burglary and commit an indictable offence, and that on 11 September 2012 she had been convicted of a criminal offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more (Charge 2 – professional misconduct); and
  3. providing false statements on her registration renewal contrary to s 109(1) of the National Law, in particular submitting online applications to AHPRA for renewal of her registration as a registered nurse on 21 April 2012 and 25 May 2013, which failed to declare that she has been convicted of a criminal offence on 11 September 2012 (Charge 3 – professional misconduct).

Ms Le Garde's misconduct came to the attention of the relevant authorities when an anonymous tip was made to AHPRA on 29 April 2016. Ms Le Garde subsequently made a statutory declaration in which she admitted her failure to notify the National Board of changes to her criminal history and disclosed she was a former methylamphetamine user.

The National Board subsequently imposed conditions on Ms Le Garde's registration on 10 February 2017, including that she was only authorised to practise in places approved by AHPRA and she was required to attend treatment and undertake regular alcohol and drug testing.

Ms Le Garde's registration was subsequently suspended on 28 December 2017, after she failed to comply with the conditions on her registration on multiple occasions. On 12 October 2018, the National Board revoked the suspension and granted Ms Le Garde a non-practising registration.

Ultimately, there was no dispute that Ms Le Garde's conduct amounted to professional misconduct however, it was noted Ms Le Garde has made substantial efforts towards rehabilitation since June 2018.

Findings

The tribunal found that Ms Le Garde had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct. The tribunal also found the professional misconduct was not related to Ms Le Garde's clinical practice and there was nothing to suggest her impairment impacted upon her nursing duties. However, any issues of protection of the public and Ms Le Garde's fitness to practice were considered were to be determined by the National Board on a subsequent date.

Orders

The tribunal ordered that Ms Le Garde be reprimanded and her registration suspended for six months. The tribunal concluded that the criminal conduct of Ms Le Garde was serious and her 'persistent failure to disclose such matters is a serious example…in the Tribunal's view, of professional misconduct.'