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Nurse handed 12-month ban after giving dialysis patient Lucozade

A nurse in Yorkshire has received a 12-month suspension from the Nursing and Midwifery Council after demonstrating a consistent lack of competence.

A fitness to practise panel proved 11 allegations of incompetence against Juleth McKenzie including giving a hypoglycaemic patient on dialysis oral lucozade instead of IV glucose.

The panel also established that the nurse did not know the difference between milligrams and micrograms, could not accurately calculate a patient’s heart rate and checked a patient’s temperature when she was required to check blood pressure.

The allegations dated back to between 2006 and 2007.

Ms McKenzie was working as a band 5 staff nurse at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, her first substantive post after qualifying in 2005 – although she had worked at the hospital as a bank nurse.

The allegations related to her performance on the renal unit and subsequently on Ward 18, an ear nose and throat unit.

The panel was told that Ms McKenzie had failed to pass the renal unit’s new starters programme after six months, when most completed it within three months, and concerns remained about her “ability to function as a registered nurse”. She was subsequently mentored and given support to develop her practice.

However, it was found she had previously been diagnosed with dyslexia and poor short term visual memory. She was subsequently redeployed to Ward 18 where the panel heard that her supervisors were “unaware of the nature of her previous problems”.

Despite being set objectives and given teaching sessions, concerns were identified regarding Ms McKenzie’s performance across a range of areas including communication, safe medicines administration and ability to remember what she had learnt.

Although Ms McKenzie had a good rapport with patients and tried to engage with the programme, the panel was told she continued to make “fundamental errors and was unable to address the concerns in her performance”.

From 1 July 2008, she was redeployed as a healthcare assistant but concerns continued to be expressed about her competency, and she left the hospital’s employment on 30 November 2008.

When considering what action to take the hearing panel noted several mitigating factors – firstly that Ms McKenzie was “evidently a caring nurse” who wanted to deliver good practice and that she had tried to engage with her development programme and her supervisors.

She was handed a year-long suspension order at the NMC hearing in November last year, which found her fitness to practise was “impaired by lack of competence”.

The panel was unable to strike her off because her registration had not been continuously suspended and/or subject to conditions of practice for a period of not less than two years preceding the date of the panel’s decision.

A spokesman for the foundation trust said: “The trust took appropriate action to safeguard patients. Ms McKenzie was managed in accordance with the trust’s capability procedures and was provided with extensive supervision and support.”

Ms McKenzie was not present at the hearing and it was noted she had not engaged with the NMC after April 2011.

Readers' comments (48)

  • grumpy

    Er - how did this nurse get through her training?!!!

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  • I really do wonder -----how incompetent does one have to be to be removed from the register ?

    11 -12 separate charges of incompetence !

    This woman should never have been permitted to qualify --- serious questions should be asked about her School of Nursing and those qualified , practising nurses who happily signed her off!

    Seems there may be more incompetents hiding in the undergrowth --- Ms McKenzie was failed by them !

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  • did she have a maths test at interview?

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  • How has this nurse only been given a 12 month ban? She should be required to fully train again (but properly this time!) or be struck off completely. An error between milligrams a micrograms could kill a patient.

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  • How has this nurse only been given a 12 month ban? She should be required to fully train again (but properly this time!) or be struck off completely. An error between milligrams a micrograms could kill a patient.

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  • michael stone

    I read this one recently in the press.

    I think it said she was (my phrase) a 'returning to nursing nurse', and that she had undertaken a course that most nurses manage in 3 months, but she had not completed in 6 months. It also said, I think, that at least some of her colleagues knew she was a menace.

    1) a nurse who can't grasp the difference between milli and micro, should not even be allowed near an aspirin

    2) if some other people knew about her unsatisfactory competence level, then at least some people (can't tell who, because I don't know who said what to whom, and who apparently then didn't act appropriately) should be ashamed of themself/ves !

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  • The problem with getting rid of incompetent nurses is its not obvious on day 1 when they start their employment. By the time red flags are showing you cant just sack them. They have to be offered re training and supervision, usually with competencies to pass and this can take a while. You have to gather evidence of their incompetence and then there has to be an incident that warrants suspension and referral to the NMC. Where they then wait about 4 years for the case to be heard.
    Otherwise HR find themselves with an unfair dismissal case. Its frustrating as hell to work along side colleagues who everyone knows does not have the ability required, but you have to wait for the wheels to turn on the process of getting them out.
    The above only happens if you have a manager who is pro active and not one who bury's there heads in the sand and ignores pleas from colleagues to take action.

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  • What is the NMC thinking of??? This person should permanently be removed from the register. How clear can it be? This person is dangerous and patients lives are at risk here!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 8-Jan-2013 11:54 am

    That isn't 'easy to swallow' if you come from the perspective of the patients who might be harmed.

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  • tinkerbell

    the continual support of 'incompetence' places everyone in danger including the staff they work with. We had one who was a liability to work with. In the end a patient died but she still managed remain in post despite everyone's concerns and then go on from doing her RMN to do her RGN, get put back in her placements on the RGN course and still hang in there.

    I think a point has to be reached for everyones sake where it is acknowledged that some are unteachable egardless of input.

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  • tinkerbell

    sorry other way round RGN to RMN.

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  • Is this serious? I am stunned. I am a first year adult nursing student and have only been on 1 placement so far but even before any training I would have known giving a dialysis patient Lucozade is not the same as a glucose drip! How was she allowed to practice for so long before being disciplined? This is people's lives we are responsible for!

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  • how can you confuse lucozade with a glucose drip.lucozade isnt a clear fluid,i work in a different speciality within outpatients.so havent worked on the wards for a few years .but even then its not the sort of thing easily mixed up,and as for confusing milligrams with microgramsthat is one of the first things you learn in your basic training.also the clue is the size of the pills about to be dispensed.

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  • once again the details of the story are sketchy and subject to speculation.

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  • There are always two sides to a story. the article gives us only one.
    the article also mentions that the nurse could not calculate a patient's HR. as far as I am aware HR is counted not calculated. So colleagues be slow to judge based on one, one-sided article.
    Just for the record poor practice and incompetency I do not condone but Im aware of nurses who have been reported to the NMC as a result of documented system failures. they have ended up with their PINs suspended and subsequently have been struck off. so colleagues, always two sides.
    challenging a big instituition with alot of money power and beaurocratic processes is a near impossible task. so do not be quick to jump to conclusions.

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  • akina andibo | 9-Jan-2013 9:59 am

    I got stuck on the 'calculating the HR' bit as well. A technique i have never learned and presume requires a special piece of apparatus beyond a simple watch and with which I am unfamiliar.

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  • While the "Universities" are paid for quantity, rather than quality, you will always have some who pass through training and are not fit to do so.

    Having been involved in "interviews" for student nurse training placements, it is clear the university staff are under pressure to fill places, and will accept students on courses when they are obviously not fit.

    This need to maintain numbers means that failing students are often "passed", in spite of qualified staff raising concerns.

    I even had one student forge my signature, but when I brought this to the attention of the link tutor, nothing was done as far as I know.

    Also agree with the earlier comment about HR processes being too complex and time-consuming. Staff do not raise concerns because the burden of "dismissal", and the extra work involved falls to them.

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  • I fully agree with Tipperary Tim. It is the recruitment process and the universities who are failing student nurses and subsequently patients. They also compromise other staff working in the same areas.
    Many staff nurses are ill equipped to nurse a patient. They can trip off all the warning scores but fail to recognise an ill patient and are clueless in what to do about it apart from call the met team!

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  • I agree with the majority of comments. To me it simply highlights the inappropriate passing" of student nurses at placement stage when they are not fit to pass. Back to the " mentors fail to fail" scenario . God help us all if this is the level of competency of nurses treating our weak ,ill and vulnerable . :(

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  • When in the 70's there was an intermediate examination no-one wasted time progressing through a profession that they were unsuited for - we need to be able to sift out people who are not proving up to the job. not just keep re-training endlessly

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