A NURSE who put get well cards in the room of a dead patient escaped disciplinary action when it emerged she was stressed after finding the body of a relative who committed suicide.
Lyndsey Anne Dick faced a total of 11 charges of misconduct, including curling the dead woman’s hair, stopping other staff getting in to a patient’s room and staggering and slurring her words.
On a separate occasion, Miss Dick discharged a patient without proper clothes, money or house keys, and then lied about arranging a taxi for him.
But the disciplinary hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, held in Edinburgh, heard that Ms Dick was suffering from stress at the time due to her personal circumstances.
The 32-year-old was working at hospitals in Glasgow, in 2006 when she discovered that her mother was suffering from cancer.
The same year she discovered the body of an uncle who had killed himself.
Chairwoman Anna Buchan told the hearing: “In 2006 her mother was clinically ill. Her Uncle took his own life and was then found by the registrant [Miss Dick].”
“She received treatment to cope when she learned her mum’s condition was terminal.
“She encountered panic attacks as we had access to evidence on previous hearings.”
Salim Hafejee, the lawyer for the NMC, said: “Miss Dick was struggling with exceptionally difficult family circumstances.
“She was in a difficult position with her mother, who has since passed away, and struggled with her work commitments.
“Miss Dick was at work when she shouldn’t have been. She was suffering from episodes of depression and panic disorders.”
Miss Dick was relying on caffeine tablets and coffee to get through her days at work, the hearing was told.
AtLightburnHospital,Glasgow, on November 28 that year, Miss Dick put get well cards in the room of a dead woman and then curled her hair before the family arrived.
Miss Dick told the hearing she had done this so the family would think the patient had been well looked after.
“The woman had been in the ward for a few days,” she said.
“They’d put her in a side room-she looked as though she’d been just stuck in there. I wanted the family to know she was well cared for when they came in to see her.”
Three days before, at Stobhill Hospital, Miss Dick admitted letting a patient “walk off in to the night with nothing”.
She told the hearing he had “no keys, no money, and he wasn’t even adequately clothed”. She added: “I can’t believe I did that.
“I should have made sure that man was safe, not just as a nurse but as a human being.”
The nurse, who now works for health care provider BMI as an advisor, told the committee she has since learned how to cope with stressful situations.
“I’ve learned how to manage stress a lot more. Instead of taking on people’s problems, I know now that I don’t have to do that. I’ve got a great partner and friends and I acknowledge that I’ve got limitations.”
The NMC panel decided that Miss Dick was “no longer currently impaired” and that a “unique set of circumstances” lead to her “poor judgement” at the time.
Ms Buchan said: “Her behaviour took place in a very short space of time just over five years ago.”
She added that Miss Dick’s “clear insight into the situation” and the fact that “her colleagues speak very highly of her” showed that she should be allowed to practise nursing again.
Speaking after the hearing adjourned, Miss Dick said: “I’m just relieved it’s all over. This whole thing has been very embarrassing for me. I just want to get over it.”