Stevenage’s Lister Hospital nurse given six-month suspension after administering medication not prescribed to patients

Lister Hospital.

Lister Hospital. - Credit: Archant

A former nurse at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital has been suspended for six months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council after administering medication which had not been prescribed to patients.

Rita Hand, who had been a nurse since 1987, was referred to the NMC in October 2017 after concerns were raised about her fitness to practice.

Concerns had been raised that she had failed to demonstrate safe medication administration practice in respect of five separate patients on four separate occasions.

It was found that in August 2016 and March 2017 Mrs Hand had administered strong painkillers to two separate patients when they were not prescribed for them.

Following the first incident, the East and North Herts NHS Trust placed her under clinical restrictions, however, between October 2016 and March 2017 she breached the restrictions by administering medication without authorisation on three separate occasions.

In January 2017, the trust placed Mrs Hand on a medication competency assessment, however her earlier breach of restrictions meant she was unable to pass this assessment.

When deciding whether Mrs Hand's actions amounted to misconduct, the panel was of the view that her actions "did fall significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse, and that her actions amounted to a breach of the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives code", according to the report published on Thursday.

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It also stated that administering incorrect medication to five different patients "would be considered to be deplorable behaviour by her fellow nurses and that should be recognised as serious misconduct".

The panel had taken into account a letter from Mrs Hand dated October 19, 2017. Although she had now accepted the charges, the letter indicated that she had "failed to accepted that the failings are down to her alone, and has looked to blame various aspects of those failings on the trust".

They were of the view that Mrs Hand will not be able to remediate fully until she accepts her failings and understands the steps she must take to return to safe practice.

Having considered a range of outcomes, including striking-off, the panel decided a six-month suspension order would be in place, giving her a period to reflect on her failings. The order will be reviewed after expiry.

Mrs Hand has 28 days to appeal this decision, and is under an interim order for that time, and for the duration of any appeal process up to 18 months, meaning she cannot practice.