The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has suspended a nurse for 12 months and imposed conditions on his practice.  The nurse entered into an intimate relationship with the estranged wife of one of his patients during the time he was providing therapy services to the patient.

In addition the nurse tried to persuade the estranged wife to provide false or misleading statements about their relationship to the District Health Board in its investigation and also to the Professional Conduct Committee appointed by the Nursing Council to investigate.

When the nurse returns to practice he must have a clinical supervisor for two years and undertake a Nursing Council approved code of conduct course within three months of recommencing practice.

It is inappropriate for health professionals to enter into intimate relationships with the family of their patients.  Even though in this case it was with the estranged wife of the patient it was inappropriate because she was involved with the patient’s treatment and still continued a close relationship with the patient.

Alan Knowsley

Medical Lawyer