Nurse dragged '˜confused patient' across hospital ward
A nurse who frogmarched an elderly and vulnerable patient across a hospital ward has been suspended from the register.
Jacqueline Johnson was found to have either dragged or pulled the woman from one bay to another while working as a staff nurse on the Lowton Ward at Wigan Infirmary by a disciplinary panel of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The incident, which happened in August 2014, was referred to the NMC by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust which sacked Johnson, who had worked for them since 2001, following an internal investigation.
The panel also found that Johnson had said to the elderly woman, referred to only as patient A: “I am not having this, your behaviour is behavioural” or words to that effect, in a raised voice.
After hearing evidence from a number of witnesses, panel members concluded that the force and language used by Johnson was disproportionate and caused considerable harm to the patient, who was said to be in a confused state at the time.
Johnson, who had been working as a nurse for 34 years, did not attend the hearing, but told the panel in correspondence that she felt her actions were appropriate for dealing with the situation.
A report published following the hearing states: “The panel considered that it was clear from the evidence of the NMC witnesses that patient A did not want to be moved.
“While the description of how she was moved varied to some extent, it was clear to all of the witnesses that she was being compelled to move. Several of the witnesses said that patient A was confused.”
But Johnson said had she left patient A alone, she would have absconded from the ward but the panel found no evidence that indicated there was any immediate danger to warrant patient A’s being dragged or pulled to bay one from bay three.
The report reads: “The panel noted that Patient A was a vulnerable patient, and it considered Mrs Johnson’s actions were serious and fundamental departures from the standards that would be expected of a registered nurse.
“It noted that all of the witnesses were shocked by Mrs Johnson’s treatment of patient A.
“As Mrs Johnson had been asked to get involved, the panel concluded that there must have been some reason to remove her from the immediate area.
“However, the panel considered that, to drag or pull patient A all of the way back to bay one, some considerable distance according to the witnesses, would not be appropriate under any circumstances.”
The panel concluded that Johnson’s actions amounted to misconduct and that her fitness to practice was impaired.
However, it took into account that it was an isolated incident in context of her long career and striking her from the register would be disproportionate.
A six-month suspension was considered appropriate to give Johnson time to reflect while protecting the public.
A spokesman for WWL said: “Following an internal investigation the nurse concerned was dismissed from the Trust in January 2015.
“The case was also upheld by the Wigan Borough Safeguarding Board.”