Nurse’s disciplinary hearing over confidential notes

A mental health nurse who shared the confidential medical notes of a psychiatric patient with her boss over a dispute with another nurse was yesterday the subject of a disciplinary hearing.

Nurse’s disciplinary hearing over confidential notes

Martina Margaret M Babar, a former staff nurse at South Lee Mental Health Services in Cork, was up before a fitness to practice inquiry at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

South Lee Mental Health Services is based in St Finbarr’s Hospital, but also has units in Cork University Hospital, where Ms Babar was primarily based.

Ms Babar faced claims she photocopied the medical notes of the HSE patient and then posted them to Jim Hankard, the former director of mental health services for the South Lee area. Ms Babar faced the allegation of professional misconduct.

The patient, referred to as Patient A, was a 53-year-old woman who had been involuntarily admitted to hospital over paranoia and aggressive behaviour. Patient A made a complaint about Ms Babar on April 10, 2012, and another nurse had noted this in Patient A’s medical notes.

Ms Babar took issue with the fact the nurse had made this note, using initials that could identify her, and then wrote a letter to Mr Hankard, complaining about this.

Along with the letter, she photocopied Patient A’s medical notes, which included the note from the other nurse, on April 15 or 16, 2012, and posted it to Mr Hankard on April 16, 2012.

During his evidence, Mr Hankard said he was on sick leave at the time, and did not see the letter and medical notes until months later.

He said photocopying a patient’s file and posting it to someone breached the patient’s confidentiality. He said the patient’s family was very concerned about it.

“ The golden rule is that you can’t interfere with a medical file,” he said.

Gerard Meehan, counsel for Ms Babar, said the nurse admitted she copied the notes and posted them, but argued her actions were not professional misconduct.

The inquiry committee said it was minded to request an undertaking from Ms Babar, asking her promise to not repeat the conduct under review, subject to the agreement of the NMBI board which will consider the committee’s request later.

Mr Meehan said earlier Ms Babar would consent to an undertaking, adding that she previously promised hospital management that she would not repeat the behaviour under review.

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