Nurse taped patient’s mouth and told him ‘I will shoot you’ to keep him quiet

A nurse taped over an elderly patient's mouth and told him 'I will shoot you' in a bid to keep him quiet, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Nurse Beaullah Ntsulumbana stuck the medical tape over the mouth of a distressed elderly man and said 'that will keep you quiet' after he shouted 'go away' at anyone who approached him during a night shift, the hearing heard.

A fitness to practise committee panel heard Ntsulumbana also told the patient: "I will shoot you, I will shoot you, I will shoot you", as he continued to make noise during the night.

The panel heard the patient, an elderly man suffering from a urinary tract infection and confusion, was 'very noisy' during the night shift at the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, shouting and asking for help.

Healthcare assistants said they saw Ntsulumbana tear off a strip of medical tape and stick it over the distressed man's mouth, leaving it there for around five minutes.

An unnamed colleague who gave evidence at the hearing said: "Patient A was being very disruptive and the patients around him were becoming agitated with the noise as it was getting late.

"We moved him out to the nurses' station around 10.11pm.

"He was very noisy all night, and in the early hours of the morning the agency nurse taped Patient A's mouth shut 'to keep him quiet' and left the tape in place for five or so minutes before removing it.

"She later told Patient A three or fourt times that she would shoot him.

"Patient A was distressed by this and said he was very frightened, hiding under his bed sheet, shaking and screaming if he saw anyone move or come towards him."

The healthcare assistant, who was on the shift added: "I then heard the Registrant say to Patient A 'that will keep you quiet' or words to that effect."

However giving evidence during the hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Aldwych, London, Ntsulumbana claimed to have placed tape on her own mouth and made a 'shh' gesture before giving the patient tape, which she said he put on his own mouth.

She added the situation was 'stressful to deal with' and her intention had been 'to calm him down'.

Ntsulumbana – who worked for an agency – claimed she had told the patient 'we need to keep quiet' and 'let's be quiet'.

A judgement report by chair of the panel Paula Burton read: "The panel noted that the evidence it heard was that Patient A was very agitated and was shouting 'go away' when anyone approached him.

"It also heard evidence that Patient A had continually refused medication, offers of food and fluids from you and was constantly pulling off his covers.

"Thus, the panel considered that it would be unlikely that Patient A would be in a position to take the sticky tape from you and place it on his own mouth."

Another allegation that Ntsulumbana had laughed at the man as he tried to take the tape off his mouth was found not proved by the panel.

Sanctioning Ntsulumbana with a four-year caution order that will appear on her fitness to practice record, the panel report read: "The panel was of the view that your actions in placing tape over Patient A's mouth to quieten him to be completely inappropriate in any circumstances.

"You failed to act towards him in a caring and compassionate way.

"The panel considered you saying 'that will keep you quiet' or words to that effect, and repeatedly saying 'I will shoot you, I will shoot you, I will shoot you' or words to that effect, amounted to serious misconduct.

"The panel noted that this was said as part of a continuing response to Patient A's behaviour.

"It considered your actions to have been wholly inappropriate to speak to a vulnerable patient in this way.

"This is something which no registered nurse should do to a patient."

It was also found her fitness to practice is 'currently impaired'.

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