A DISTRICT nurse who left a diabetic man in a coma after giving him too much insulin has been suspended for six months.
Janice Birch, 55, from Havenside, Southend, had failed to carry out proper checks on the man’s blood sugar levels before injecting him.
The patient then slumped into a coma due to low blood sugar levels and was found by a relative.
Ms Birch was working for the South Essex Partnership NHS Trust’s district nursing team when the incident happened and she was dismissed following a internal investigation.
Now a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel has found her actions amounted to misconduct and suspended her.
In a report at the fitness to practice hearing the panel, who referred to the patient as Patient A, said: “Patient A was subsequently found unconscious by his mother who called an ambulance.
“He was found to have very low blood sugar and required treatment by the ambulance crew.
“Ms Birch is also alleged to have failed to review Patient A’s care plan prior to the administration of insulin.”
The incident happened at the patient’s home in September 2012 and Ms Birch was sacked last January.
The professional panel also found on three occasions – September 28, October 1 and 2 in 2011 – she gave a woman, Patient B, too little of prescribed medication and threw away the excess amount that would not fit in the syringe, which saw the patient given an “inadequate dose of her prescribed medication”.
A third charge that she falsely recorded administering the prescribed doses of medication to Patient B was dropped due to a lack of medical records.
The report added during the internal investigation: “Ms Birch admitted discarding the excess medication prescribed to Patient B. She indicated this was her usual practice and this was the practice taught to her “years and years ago.
“Her actions were serious and resulted in patient harm. The panel also noted these were not isolated incidents, but rather a series of medication errors over an extended period.
“In all the circumstances, the panel is satisfied Ms Birch’s actions fell short of the conduct and standards expected of a registered nurse and do amount to misconduct.”
Ms Birch offered no defence to the panel. However, it was noted she was described by other nurses as an otherwise good and competent nurse, whowas “good” at palliative care.
She has 28 days to appeal.