Psychiatric nurse loses license for three years for suicide remarks
October 11, 2011
A mental health nurse has been issued with a three-year ban after she labelled a patient who attempted suicide an “attention seeker” and suggested she was not serious about taking her own life.
Margaret Enid Gatenby, 67, was found guilty of professional misconduct by the New South Wales (Australia) Nursing and Midwifery Tribunal due to her treatment of the patient at Cumberland Hospital’s mental health unit in Sydney.
The tribunal heard the female patient attempted suicide on the night of 26-27 December 2005 while an inpatient.
Following the incident, it was alleged Ms Gatenby spoke in a condescending manner to the patient and within her earshot.
She described the patient as an attention-seeker and said “if she was really serious she wouldn’t have pushed the call bell.”
The patient again attempted suicide while hospitalised on 14 February 2006 and died the following day after failing to regain consciousness.
While the commission did not allege Ms Gatenby’s comments deterred the patient from pressing the call bell on the second occasion, it said her remarks “gave rise to a real risk of harm to patients.”
Ms Gatenby, who has not worked as a nurse since 2008, will not be able to reapply for registration until 2014.
Source: "Nurse banned for suicide remarks," Psychiatry Update (from the publisher of Australian Doctor), September 29, 2011.
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