Injured nurse stole painkillers from emergency department
A former Bundaberg Hospital emergency department nurse has taken steps to address her pain-induced addiction to oxycodone after she was found to have stolen 48 Endone tablets.
On December 18, 2019, Narelle Joy Baumann pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to one count of false entry on record and one count of stealing by clerks and servants.
No conviction was recorded for the offending, however, Baumann was sentenced to a 15-month probation order including conditions for medical, psychiatric and/or psychological assessment and treatment and drug and alcohol testing.
This month, a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing into the matter of occupational regulation found Baumann's actions had constituted "professional misconduct".
The hearing was in response to a health service complaint seeking orders for sanction.
In the process of the hearing, which was held in Brisbane, it was heard that Baumann, 51, first became an enrolled nurse in 2009, but suffered a work injury in 2013 that led to ongoing chronic moderate pain.
During the time of the offending, Baumann was being medically prescribed pain relief including Endone, Panadeine Forte and Tramadol.
The hearing heard that Baumann was not always accompanied to a patient's bedside or supervised when dispensing Schedule 8 medications.
While patients did not miss out on their doses as a result of the misconduct, Baumann was able to use these times to take Endone tablets for her own use on 18 occasions.
Baumann surrendered her registration as an enrolled nurse in 2018 after an investigation into her workplace conduct.
The hearing heard Baumann is now studying to obtain a Bachelor of Nursing degree and hopes to rejoin the nursing profession.
The hearing stated the purpose of a sanction was to protect the public, not to punish the practitioner, and stated that Baumann's voluntary surrender of her nursing status act as a de facto suspension.
The hearing heard Baumann had no criminal or disciplinary history and had suffered financially, socially and emotionally as a result of the loss of her employment.
The Tribunal found Baumann was genuinely remorseful and had developed drug dependence as a result of chronic pain.
Baumann's fitness to practice will be considered by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (Board) upon any application for re-registration after she was reprimanded by the Tribunal.
No further preclusion from practice was found to be necessary for an immediate protective purpose or for the purpose of specific deterrence and the Tribunal stated any further period of preclusion from practice would be "punitive".