A male nurse who "sexually exploited" a female mental health inpatient has been described as "reprehensive and inexcusable" by the health and disability commissioner.
The male nurse, aged in his mid-30s, began texting "a vulnerable 19-year old female mental health inpatient" a week before she was due to leave hospital, the commissioner, Anthony Hill, said in a report released today.
The nurse developed an "inappropriate personal and sexual relationship" with the young woman; communicating with her via text message, Skype, Facebook, telephone and in person.
Communication became "increasingly personal" and, less than six weeks after the patient left hospital, the couple had sex. Their relationship continued for five months.
The report described the nurse’s conduct as exploitative, "reprehensive and inexcusable", and a breach of professional and ethical obligations.
Hill did not accept the nurse’s submission that his health and lack of experience contributed to his professional lapse, as it was a medical professional’s responsibility to ensure they were able to practise safely.
The nurse was referred to the commission’s director of proceedings, who is yet to decide on a course of action.
The district health board that employed the nurse was not found to have breached the code of health and disability consumer rights but Hill said it was concerning that the nurse’s concerns to colleagues about his own mental wellbeing were not followed up.
Names and locations have been suppressed.
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