Nurse struck off after woman’s death following psychiatric unit refusal


A NURSE who refused a patient access to a psychiatric unit days before she was found dead has been struck off.

Albert McGowan, 61, also failed to arrange a home visit for the female patient, who was found dead on 15 March 2011.

The patient had called the Carseview Centre in Dundee on 10 March, but Mr McGowan failed to ask her the appropriate “safety questions.”

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Mr McGowan, from Dundee, admitted failing to arrange a home visit but denied six other allegations at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing.

He was found to have discouraged a colleague to carry out a home visit on the patient, named only as “Patient A” as well as refusing her request to attend the centre.

The patient had called the centre, where Mr McGowan worked as a nurse, on 10 March.

He claimed her speech was slurred and it took five minutes to find out her name.

NMC panel chair John Matharu said: “Patient A said herself in an earlier conversation that day that if she was feeling worse she would contact again, she then did so and Mr McGowan did not assess her care needs adequately given the context of the situation.”

Mr McGowan wrote that the patient “sounds intoxicated” during his conversation, but did not ask questions about why her speech was slurred, the panel found.

Mr McGowan told the patient to have a sleep and call again when she woke up.

Mr Matharu continued: “Patient A was asking to attend the centre and Mr McGowan intervened to prevent this from occurring.

“Although the panel accepted that he may not have outright told Patient A ‘No you cannot attend’ his actions amounted to a refusal to her request to attend the centre.

“This was based on his lack of adequate assessment of her current needs and his failure to obtain evidence as to her current condition.”

Mr McGowan also told a colleague at the centre that the patient would call again if she needed help.

But he had earlier told the patient when she called on 10 March someone would go and visit her.

Mr Matharu said this “discouraged” Mr McGowan’s colleague from visiting the patient at home.

Mr Matharu said: “Although the panel had no evidence that suggested that Mr McGowan’s actions played a direct part in the death of patient A, the panel was of the view that Mr McGowan’s failure to assess Patient A on the best available and current evidence led to a delay in Patient A receiving the care that she required at that time and thereby increased the risk that she was in.”

He said the nurse’s failings were “serious,” and said the nurse, who is now retired, needed to be struck off in order to protect the public.

The cause of the patient’s death was not revealed.

The panel said Mr McGowan “no remorse” for the impact his actions had on the patient.

Mr McGowan was not present at the hearing in Edinburgh, but has previously dismissed the charges as “nonsense.”

He has said: “I feel I was a scapegoat. We were under a lot of pressure – they changed my job from being a community nurse to being an assessment nurse.

“It was really busy and we had told management several times that we needed more staff because we were under a lot of pressure.”