Nurse who fell asleep on suicide watch faces being struck off

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By Rory Reynolds

A PATIENT on suicide watch raised the alarm after the nurse in charge of monitoring her FELL ASLEEP on the job.

A young woman identified as Patient A reported Laura Purdy to her colleagues after she had been dozing for 15 mins.

Purdy also asked a colleague to “cover” for her after she accidentally gave anti-psychotic drugs to the wrong patient.

She pleaded with fellow nurse Jacqueline Campbell not to report her to their ward manager because she “was in enough trouble”, a hearing heard yesterday.

Purdy faces being struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Conduct and Competence Committee in Edinburgh after a catalogue of incidents while working at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Royal Hospital.

The 56-year-old also already admitted to administering a dose of anti-depressants to the wrong patient, handing out medication unsupervised and admitting the wrong patient onto her ward.

Incident

Yesterday the panel heard evidence from staff nurse Mrs Campbell who worked with Purdy at Gartnavel’s Rutherford House when the incident occurred in February 10 2007.

Mrs Campbell told how she had asked Purdy why she had issued Risperidone to a patient whose charge sheet already confirmed they had taken their medication.

She said: “She could not explain and apologised. She apologised and said ‘no harm done’.

“I said I would have to report it to the ward manager and she said she would get in to trouble if it was reported.

“She told me she was in enough trouble and she didn’t need anything else.

“The next time she was on the late shift she said ‘did you manage to cover that for me?’ and I said I had reported it to the ward manager.”

Risk of self-harm

Panel Chair Pamela Ormerod asked Mrs Campbell if she had spoken to Purdy about her conduct following the incident.

Mrs Campbell responded: “We did discuss that, saying how important it was to look at the patient’s name to make sure you are giving the medication to the correct patient.”

Purdy has already admitted she had fallen asleep on June 11 2005 while observing a “young person at high risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviour”.

Purdy, who was not present yesterday, was given a final written warning following the incident.

She has also admitted giving the wrong patient a 75mg dose of anti-depressant Venlafaxine seven weeks following the suicide incident.

Purdy resigned on August 29 2007 during the investigation into her conduct.

Salim Hafejee, the NMC’s legal representative, said: “The relevant test is: is this conduct worthy of a nurse?

Jeopardise patient safety

“You’ll see from the findings that we’ve set out, they all had the potential to jeopardise patient safety.

“Patient A was very vulnerable, Mrs Purdy was on watch, and she fell asleep.

“It was Patient A herself who noticed her carer was asleep and notified other staff.

“Patient B had medication given despite given clear instruction not to.

“Certainly in terms of the duty of care to provide safe and competent care to patients, there was a breach of that duty.

“This is not a competence case, it is clearly misconduct.

“Mrs Purdy appears on the face of it to have been a nurse of some years standing.

“These were very basic errors: falling asleep; not checking patient identities; not listening to a patient who tells her she’s not the patient she thinks she’s checking in – and continues regardless.

“So very basic errors in basic nursing practice – we can say that is clearly misconduct.”

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