A nurse has appeared before an inquiry accused of falsifying medication records and giving incorrect amounts of medicines to residents of a nursing home in Cork city five years ago.
Carmelita Bacani faced a total of 21 allegations of professional misconduct and poor professional performance made by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland over her care of six residents at the CareChoice centre on Upper Glanmire Road in Montenotte during 2017.
Ms Bacani, originally from The Philippines, appeared before a hearing of the NMBI’s fitness-to-practise committee in Dublin on Thursday, which coincided with her 52nd birthday.
Counsel for the NMBI, Lorna Lynch BL, claimed the allegations also represented non-compliance with the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for registered nurses.
The inquiry arose following a complaint by the nursing home’s then director of nursing, Joanne Williams, to the NMBI in September 2017.
The FTC committee heard that the complaints about Ms Bacani had also been referred to gardaí at the time but the DPP had subsequently taken a decision that no criminal prosecution should arise from the case.
The committee’s legal assessor, Patricia Dillon SC, said Ms Bacani was not disputing the facts that she had forged signatures about the use of controlled drugs on medical records.
Ms Dillon said the nurse, who was not legally represented, was also not in a position to dispute or argue with the allegations about not administering medication, or not providing the correct doses, as she could not remember events.
The inquiry heard that Ms Bacani had given one individual known as Resident A half the required dose of a painkiller, Oramorph, on two occasions on May 26, 2017.
She had also given an amount below the required dose of a treatment for diabetes, NovoRapid, to another individual, Resident B, on May 31, 2017.
Ms Bacani was accused of failing to administer prescribed medication, including sleeping tablets and a treatment for Parkinson’s disease to Resident B and three other residents on July 8, 2017, but signing medication administration records to indicate that she had given them the drugs.
The inquiry heard the nurse had also inserted false initials on the nursing home’s controlled drugs register on 22 different dates in 2017 to indicate that she had administered a painkiller to Resident E in the presence of another registered nurse as is required under CareChoice’s controlled drugs policy.
Similarly, she had forged the initials of other nurses on the same register on 10 dates in 2017 in relation to the provision of the painkiller, Oxycontin, to Resident F.
Three former nurses at the centre, Jet Garcia, Konrad Banach and Olaide Adebayo, gave evidence that their initials on the controlled drugs register were not signed by them.
Ms Williams told the inquiry that it was important that certain medications were given in a timely fashion to vulnerable residents for them to be effective.
While she acknowledged the process of recording medication administration was “time consuming”, Ms Williams said it was never a problem getting a colleague to be present for controlled drugs during her time at the nursing home.
“We found it difficult to believe that something like this could happen,” she observed.
Ms Williams said she had reported the matter to gardaí because it involved controlled drugs and Ms Bacani was suspended.
Ms Lynch said Ms Bacani had informed the NMBI by correspondence that she had decided to give the residents the drugs by herself because they were in pain.
However, she said the nurse now accepted that she had not followed the correct procedures.
The resumed hearing, which had been adjourned since February, had previously been informed that Ms Bacani, a single mother, had undergone a hysterectomy in October 2016.
The committee heard that the nurse had stated in a letter that she had acted out of sympathy for the nursing home residents because of the pain she had felt after her own operation.
The hearing was adjourned and will resume on Friday.