A nurse who bullied elderly patients, made mistakes with medication and was regularly rude to staff and visitors has been banned from nursing for a year.
Staff nurse Anita Owen, aged in her 60s, pointedly questioned a visitor’s need to give her chronically ill grandmother a drink saying “she is dying anyway”.
In more than a decade working for Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board at Ysbyty Gwynedd, her career was marked by a host of complaints.
Ms Owen resigned from her job at the north Wales health board last summer after an interim investigation into an allegation of patient bullying.
Her unnamed elderly victim, who had problems swallowing and could only take one tablet at a time, was left tearful by Ms Owen in an incident in July 2011.
She was ordered by the staff nurse to drink a full cup of water and take all her medication, which amounted to three tablets, at once.
A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practice hearing found today that that allegation and a series of others she faced were proved.
Panel members went on to make a 12 month suspension order to “mark the seriousness of the misconduct.”
Ms Owen, who did not attend the hearing, will have to demonstrate evidence of real reflection in her behaviour to a future panel if she wants to be reinstated.
It will meet next year and can impose a further ban if it is unconvinced by her claims and feels she has not kept up with her professional training.
The panel listed in detail a total of 26 allegations that were made against Ms Owen covering a period from 1998 until 2011.
In total they found that 12 of the allegations were proved and 14 were deemed “unproved.”
The panel heard Ms Owen began working on the 30 bed Moelwyn ward, dealing with respiratory, elderly care, and patients with diabetes, from 1998.
“She was moved to Tegid ward in 2001 following a number of complaints and errors,” NMC documentation states.
That ward, which later became Prysor ward, was where she worked for the remainder of her time at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
Before her initial move she made a number of medication errors and was sent on a drug administration workshop to improve her performance.
One of the allegations found to be proved today dates from November 2000 when Owen gave a patient an incorrect does of Dexamethasone
She was later to deny the allegation in writing to the panel which noted that she had signed and agreed a “plan of action” at work after the incident.
None of the victims of the outlined incidents are named but the incidents themselves are often described in detail.
One which was found to be proved happened in July 2009.
“When asked by a patient’s granddaughter for a sponge to give the patient a drink, (Owen) replied saying “why would you want to give your grandmother a drink? She is dying anyway.”
Ms Owen sent a letter to the panel in June in which she admitted that using the term “dying” may have been a blunt use of language.
Despite making such an admission her letter goes on to contradict itself by denying that she would ever have used such language.
“Ms Owen in her response dated 26 June 2013, ‘accepts in hindsight that she may have been a little blunt and that the use of the word ‘dying’ was wrong,” the panel’s documents state.
“But the registrant maintains that she would never have spoken to a relative with the words quoted in the allegation,’ it adds.
“Given Ms Owen’s admission of using the word ‘dying’, the panel concluded that Ms Owen had said words to the effect of “why would you want to give your grandmother a drink? She is dying,” it concludes.
Among a series of allegations found to be proved by the NMC panel are claims of instances when Owen was “challenging and confrontational” to colleagues, rude to pharmacy staff and shouted at one colleague to “shut up.”
Concluding the hearing today panel chairman Colin Youngson said the outcome would be confirmed in writing to Ms Owen.