A NURSE has been cleared of groping a patient after drugs used to anaesthetise the woman caused her to hallucinate.
Laurel Nepomuceno was accused at a misconduct panel of assaulting the patient after surgery at University Hospital Coventry (UHCW) NHS Trust, in November 2013.
The nurse was cleared of the more serious charge of sexual assault but was handed a three-month suspension order and an 18-month interim suspension after a hearing in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The woman, referred to as Patient A, claimed Nepomuceno ‘pinched and flicked her nipples’ as she drifted in an out of consciousness following a neck operation.
She also alleged Nepomuceno lifted her leg and groped her.
Patient A asserted the misconduct was ‘sexually motivated’ and that she was inappropriately placed in a ten-bed area without clinical support following her surgery.
These claims were all deemed to be ‘not proved’ by the NMC.
Based on a medical expert witness’s view, the NMC’s decision was that she had a ‘false memory brought about by the drugs that had been administered.’
It was also found that her ‘memory was unclear’ and it would have been ‘physically difficult for the alleged assault to have taken place.’
Patient A also claimed there was a ‘tussle’ after she put up resistance, but there was found to be no change in ‘blood pressure’ that might show panic or physical movement.
Nepomuceno was charged with prescribing morphine when it was ‘not necessary’ and for an inadequate response to ‘pain management and record keeping’.
The nurse ‘failed to administer morphine to Patient A at 16:50 when you recorded the patient’s pain score as 1-2.’
Nepomuceno was also found to have ‘administered 2 mg morphine to Patient A when it was not necessary.’
And the NMC found the nurse to have incorrectly recorded they had administered morphine at various times.
These charges were all ‘proved’ by the NMC.
The panel found the nurse displayed misconduct and issued a three-month suspension order and an 18-month interim suspension.
It was found the nurse’s actions ‘fell seriously short of the conduct and standards expected of a registered nurse.’
A UHCW spokesperson told us the nurse in question had been dismissed in 2014 but would not disclose the precise reasons for dismissal.
She said: “We took immediate action as soon as these extremely serious allegations came to light.
“As well as referring this individual to the NMC, and supporting the patient in reporting the incident to the police, we launched an internal investigation.
“The nurse in question was immediately suspended, and was formally dismissed in July 2014 following the full investigation into his conduct.
“We would like to apologise again to the patient for her experience within our hospital.”