Sunderland nurse suspended after giving the wrong drugs to elderly patients

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A MENTAL health nurse has been suspended after mistakenly giving sedatives and anti-depressants to elderly patients.

William Desmond Garner was found to have wrongly administered Citalopram, used to treat major depression and panic disorder, to a patient on a ward for pensioners with dementia and other mental health problems.

The 63-year-old, from Grangetown, Sunderland, also dispensed five times the correct dose of antipsychotic Haloperidol to another patient and tried to give sedative Lorazepam to a patient who no longer needed it.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council conduct and competence panel found his fitness to practice “impaired” after it upheld four charges of failing to demonstrate the standards of knowledge, skill and judgement required to work as a Band 5 nurse.

Garner, who was employed by Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, was banned from the profession for 12 months.

The panel stated: “The facts found proved in this case demonstrate significant deficiencies in a number of core areas of practice over a prolonged period of more than two years.

“Throughout this period the registrant was undergoing the preceptorship system that applied to all newly qualified nurses.

“He received a considerable amount of additional support.

“Furthermore, he was subject to the trust’s incapability policy which was designed to assist employees to improve their capabilities.

“Despite this high level of support, the registrant failed to overcome his shortcomings in relation to medication and, more generally, in documenting and planning care.”

Garner was given credit by the panel, who heard evidence from six witnesses, for admitting many of the allegations of lack of competence.

He also insisted that although he prepared to administer the Lorazepam, he realised his mistake before he gave it to the patient, and that he was going to discard most of the Haloperidol and inject the correct dose.

The charges, which were said to have happened between 2006 and 2008, also included an incident which saw the nurse take two-and-a-half hours to administer medication to 13 patients at the Wingfield Ward, at Sandwell Park Hospital, Hartlepool.

Garner said that because he was being supervised at the time, his rounds were taking longer.

The hearing was told how the registrant was “removed” from his post by the general manager after he demonstrated an “inability to carry out his role competently”.

Speaking after the hearing, a spokeswoman for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our primary concern is always for the safety of our patients.

“In any allegation against an employee, our procedures would be followed and a decision made regarding any action to be taken.

“Mr Garner no longer holds a registered nursing position at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.