Dubious professional regulation by NMC?

disposable-plastic-apronsA nurse at Northwick Park Hospital who left a patient sitting on a toilet with the door open as well as placed a disposable plastic apron into a general waste bin instead of a clinical waste container, has been told she can return to nursing.

Karen Blake failed to maintain the woman’s dignity while on duty or recognise another patient’s condition was deteriorating while bathing him, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was told.

She also failed to check a patient’s chart before starting a medication round in April 2013, touched medication with her bare hands, then failed to complete the drug round in a normal time.

The NMC panel heard other failures included her not checking a patient’s allergies when administering medication, as well as not checking if the patient could take medication themselves.

She also disposed of a used apron in a domestic waste bin, when it should be placed in clinical waste and failed an oral drug assessment during April 2011.

Blake told the panel she had been reading NMC’s Standards for the administration of medication, and attended a course to improve.

But she added she had learned nothing from this, saying it had only reinforced what she already knew.

The panel found that her actions showed a lack of competence and inability to improve and Blake must now work under certain conditions.

These include passing an NMC practise programme, working under supervision, and notifying the NMC of any nursing appointment she takes in the UK or elsewhere.

NMC panel chair Pamela Ormerod said: “There remains a risk of repetition of your previous failings.

“Until you have demonstrated your ability to safely administer medication in practice, you could not be said to be fit to practise without restriction.”

Blake has been handed an 18 month conditions of practise order.

Those who wish to read the Fitness to Practice decision can follow the link. Is it fair is a question for those attending the hearing and party to the full oral and written evidence. With experience of sitting on healthcare regulatory FTP panels myself, it is often a series of complex and overlapping issues, sometimes in part contradictory, and panels must exercise their judgement in reaching a decision. However, it has been my experience that many non-professional (lay) panel members get somewhat over excited in relation to their duties and responsibilities, exceeding the bounds of the evidence and experience of a professional panel member to flex their muscles in a demonstration of their own powers and superiority, without any real understanding of the issues involved and being unprepared to take advice.

Perhaps placing a plastic disposable apron into a general waste bin is such an example?  Was it contaminated? What is likely to be contaminated? Should it really have been destined for disposal as clinical waste, even by the standards of 21011?

The allegation was that: “On 11 April 2011, [you] did not follow infection control policy in that you put a used apron in a domestic waste bin instead of a clinical waste bin”.

I wonder what the Infection Control policy actually said, and how much reason was behind its construction in the event generating perhaps unnecessarily large amounts of healthcare waste that might better have been considered as more general refuse items?

A small matter perhaps, and one that might be debated ad nauseam by those intent on drafting waste management policies and regulation, and those undertaking pseudo-research studies and healthcare waste audits that examine with sometimes religious zeal standards of source segregation and classification etc.

But for some, it will be a career-changing matter.



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