Lawyer: Nurse's actions were malpractice

MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 09:09 12/12/2013

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A nurse accused of getting his wife to impersonate his boss berated the tribunal chairman, called a witness a "madwoman", and announced that he played by his own rules as part of his defence.

His attitude during his evidence was entirely consistent with what his senior nurses at Wellington Hospital had been saying - that he was bullying and manipulative, professional conduct committee lawyer Jo Hughson said.

In a lengthy hearing of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal on Tuesday night, Kelechi Ofoleta took the stand to argue that he did not set up his wife to impersonate a head nurse at Capital & Coast District Health Board so that he could get a job with IT company Intergen.

He has since resigned, and is facing a charge of professional misconduct.

In a written statement, he said his wife acted alone, and the first he knew head nurse Cheryl Davidson's name had been provided to Intergen was when he was contacted by Intergen human resources adviser Laura Crowe.

He confronted his wife, who admitted she had provided Intergen with bogus contacts for "Cheryl" and posed as her, he said.

But during cross-examination by Ms Hughson, he changed aspects of his story, yelled at her and tribunal chairman David Carson, and refused to answer questions, she said in closing submissions yesterday.

He dismissed Ms Crowe as a "madwoman" with "brain fog", said that the DHB was racist and that he would abide by his own standards.

Ms Hughson said Mr Ofoleta's belligerent manner was "entirely consistent" with the way his bosses described his behaviour.

Explanations for his dishonest actions had developed over time, and where detail was lacking he refused to provide it, she said.

Mr Ofoleta said he was in a separate room when his wife sent the email to Intergen with Ms Davidson's fake details.

But when asked further questions about where in the house he was at the time, he refused to answer, citing "security" issues.

The high level of detail about the structure of Wellington Hospital's intensive care unit in the email to Intergen made it highly unlikely that he had no input into it, Ms Hughson said.

"If he didn't do it himself, then he must have had some knowledge, given the discussion and the fact they were together in the same place at the same time," she said. "It's not credible."

Mr Ofoleta sent the email, his conduct "fell woefully short of accepted professional standards", and amounted to malpractice, she said.

But defence lawyer Nicola Craig said it wasn't about whether Mr Ofoleta was pleasant to work with, but whether Mrs Ofoleta sent the email and posed as Ms Davidson, and whether Mr Ofoleta knew about it.

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The prosecution had failed to prove he did, she said.

Mrs Ofoleta was more motivated to send the bogus email than her husband, given that she was so worried about his work that she thought he was being "trapped" by his bosses and wanted him to resign.

She knew so much ICU detail because her husband had explained it previously.

Evidence of Mr Ofoleta's integrity could be seen when he owned up to making $3000 worth of toll calls to Nigeria when confronted, and began to pay back the money, Ms Craig said.

The tribunal adjourned, and will make a decision in the new year.

- The Dominion Post

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