Choking patient force-fed drugs

Last updated 15:41 14/04/2014

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A patient who could not swallow or speak was force-fed painkillers by a nurse, who ignored her choking protests.

In a decision released today, the deputy health and disability commissioner criticised the nurse for not treating the woman with respect and for failing to properly care for her.

The nurse had been rude and unprofessional to the vulnerable patient, failed to take heed of her condition and failed to administer treatment properly, the deputy commissioner said.

The nurse and the patient disagree about what happened that night, but the deputy commissioner largely supported the patient's views.

In July 2012, the woman, 56, who is not named in the decisions, checked into hospital suffering from chest pains. She had motor neurone disease and could communicate only by using an iPad.

Both her disease and inability to swallow were noted on her records, but the nurse said she was unaware of either.

The decision shows the nurse initially tried to administer liquid paracetamol, but switched to an IV treatment after the patient told her via the iPad that she could not swallow.

Several hours later the nurse returned and forced the liquid paracetamol down the patient's throat despite her protests, causing her to choke.

The patient said the nurse was rude and unprofessional throughout and she was left upset and crying by the incident.

Afterwards, she contacted her family and asked them to pick her up.

The nurse denied she had been rude and said she was not aware of any problems with the patient.

The deputy commissioner said she found her explanation unconvincing.

The matter has been referred to the director of proceedings, who has the power to seek professional penalties through the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and compensation through the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

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- Fairfax Media

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