Psychiatric nurse disqualified for sexual relationship with patient

September 20, 2013

A nurse who helped a schizophrenic patient flee her abusive husband and then started a sexual relationship with her has been disqualified from Australia's health workers' register for two years.

Mark Jackson was working at Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service, south of Perth, in 2010 when he began the relationship with his patient, 'Ms L', who had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia since 2006.

A State Administrative Tribunal ruling revealed Jackson was appointed as the woman's case manager in early 2010 after she was hospitalised following a psychotic episode that brought on several suicide attempts.

Later that year, after Ms L had revealed she was in a marriage of "sexual, psychological and at times physical abuse", Jackson arranged transport for her and her daughter to move to crisis accommodation.

He then entered a residential lease with her, paid a rental bond and four weeks rent, and bought furniture.

The relationship then became sexual.

In a letter to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency later that year, Jackson admitted "the relationship boundaries rapidly became blurred".

"I did have a consentual [sic] sexual relationship with the patient. This is unacceptable from a professional and moral standpoint," he wrote.

Jackson said while he was trying to help the patient, his behaviour was "totally out of character", saying he was suffering a deep depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time as a result of his work as a mental health nurse.

Judge David Parry, deputy president of the SAT, said in a judgement that Jackson was clearly guilty of professional misconduct as alleged by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

He was disqualified from applying for registration as a registered health practitioner until 2015, and ordered to pay $2069 in costs.

Jackson resigned as a nurse in April 2011, surrendered his registration, and told the SAT he does not intend to resume his nursing career.

Source: Tim Clarke, "Nurse had sex with schizophrenic patient," The West Australian, September 18, 2013.


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