'Tic Tac' nurse banned.
Byline: Lindsey Sampson Reporter email@example.com
A NURSE who told his colleagues he gave a patient a Tic Tac when he had actually given him a tranquilliser has been banned for six months.
Geoffrey Nichols was working as a staff nurse at Lustrum Vale, an adult mental health rehabilitation unit in Stockton, when he was accused of administering the addictive drug at the end of a long day shift.
He then failed to make a record of his actions on any system and provided a false account of his actions at handover.
The allegations came to light on May 27, 2014, when a colleague reported a discussion she had with Nichols when he said he had given the patient a Tic Tac.
It later transpired that Nichols had administered lorazepam, a non-prescribed medication that is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders.
He also administered the drug to a second patient without a prescription and without recording it in the patient's records, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.
An investigation into the allegations began in June and Nichols admitted handing out the drug, claiming the patient was highly agitated.
He also admitted that he did not record his actions and that he told fellow staff members that he had given the patient a sweet which he had passed off as medication.
After hearing all the evidence, the panel suspended Nichols for six months.
Panel chairman Barbara Stuart said: "Mr Nichols had acted dishonestly by concealing his actions from his colleagues, and that this had placed the patient at further risk of harm.
"However, the panel noted that Mr Nichols made admissions to his actions when confronted, and he never sought to further hide his wrongdoing."
She added: "The actions involved the act of administering lorazepam to Patient A without a prescription being present and therefore without authority to do so.
"Lorazepam is an anxiolytic medication used to treat anxiety and is only prescribed for brief periods due to its addictive nature. In addition
to administering lorazepam, the panel noted that Mr Nichols misled his colleagues by acting dishonestly to conceal his actions. We determined that Mr Nichols had placed the patient at a significant risk of harm and had prevented his colleagues from being able to make informed decisions in relation to the care of the patient, further exposing the patient to risk of harm.
"Therefore we considered that Mr Nichols' conduct could have had an adverse impact on the patient and his colleagues.
"His conduct constituted a serious departure from the standards required of a registered nurse and raised concerns about his judgment and practice."
Nichols was given 28 days to appeal the panel's decision, and an interim suspension order directed to cover the appeal period.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust has been asked for a comment.
| The nurse had been working at Lustrum Vale mental health unit in Stockton