A HOSPITAL nurse hit an elderly patient so hard he was knocked on to his back in bed.
Grace Wilson went “punch for punch” in the incident which was described as like something out of a pub fight.
Ms Wilson retaliated after the patient, said to be in a state of delirium, hit her first because he was frustrated at not being allowed to go for a cigarette.
The fight, which erupted at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in August, 2014, landed the staff nurse in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
A hearing in Edinburgh this week found the charge against her proved and heard that she had pushed another patient five years ago.
The disciplinary panel must decide whether her fitness to practice is impaired. If so, she could be struck off.
Ms Wilson, who was not present at the hearing or represented, was doing an extra ‘twilight’ shift, from 7pm to 1am, on a ward predominantly for elderly men when the incident took place.
Sarah Johnston, an auxiliary nurse who was working with Ms Wilson on the night of the alleged incident, told the hearing: “Me and Ms Wilson heard a patient calling for help and found patient A was standing over another patient about to pour a bottle of diluting juice over them.
“When we arrived on the scene we took him by the arms and gently encouraged him back to his bed which was adjacent to the other patient’s.”
“He kept repeating that he wanted a ‘fag’ or to go and buy them from the shop. We were trying to tell him he’s in hospital and the doctors don’t think he’s fit enough to be up and about.
Pub style retaliation
She continued: “He was confused. The word delirium was the word given at the handover. I don’t know if he was suffering from dementia but it was along those sort of lines.
“He said, ‘I’m just wanting a f****** cigarette’ and then struck Grace on the left hand side of her face with his right hand. Grace them immediately retaliated and hit him back.
“Her hand came up and hit him back on the left-side of his face with her right hand. It was an immediate reflex. The patient fell back onto the bed and Grace, with momentum fell forward on top.
“It was like a springboard effect because the both were straight back up. I couldn’t believe my eyes after what i saw and that a professional nurse would act this way.”
She added: “It was something you would see in a pub, punch for punch. They were toe-to-toe.
“She was saying, ‘I can’t believe you’ve hit me’ to the patient and I’m stood standing there thinking, ‘I can’t believe you retaliated’.
“It was like the mist had come down. It was like she didn’t realise or know what she was doing.”
Mrs Johnstone explained to the panel that Ms Wilson’s attitude in the lead up to the incident seemed “like she didn’t want to be there” and how she was “angry” in the aftermath.
She said: “After the incident, she stormed away from the curtains. Chairs were getting moved around and doors were banging.
“You could here that she wasn’t happy. She was still saying, ‘I can’t believe he hit me ‘ after she left. She seemed angry and annoyed.”
Ms Wilson denied the charge in a statement which was read to the hearing.
She said: “Patient A began shouting and throwing his arms about. At this point he punched me with a closed fist on the jaw.
“I eventually managed to catch his arms to stop him thrashing about and hurting himself.
“I was shocked at being attacked by Patient A but at no point did I strike or hit him. All I did was take control of his arms to stop him assaulting me again.”
But the chairman of the panel, Tim Mann, said they concluded: “It is more likely than not that the incident occurred.
“The panel was persuaded that the actions were not to block or prevent Patient A but in retaliation.”
It was also revealed that Ms Wilson had been involved in two separate altercations with patients in 2010, one verbal and one which involved “pushing” a patient.
The panel will now decided whether the nurse’s fitness to practice is impaired and, if so, what sanction should be imposed.
Asked if the nurse had been dismissed, a spokesman for NHS Fife said it was not their policy to comment on such cases.