Nurse who taped patient's mouth given Probation Act
Published 24/04/2014 | 20:23
A judge today ruled that a male nurse who admitted placing surgical tape across a patient’s mouth be given the Probation Act.
Judge Kevin Kilrane also recommended that 39-year-old Bimbo Paden be not struck off the Register of Nurses.
Judge Kilrane, who found Paden was overworked in stressful conditions, said: “He does not pose any risk to patients in the future. To strike him from the Register would be disproportionate.”
The judge was severely critical of the conditions under which Paden worked at St John’s long-term care hospital in Sligo where Kevin Quinn, 49, from Ballymote, Co. Sligo, was a patient for 13 years having suffered a brain haemorrhage.
At an earlier hearing Paden, who worked at St John’s for 12 years shortly after arriving in Ireland from the Philipines, admitted assaulting Mr Quinn on June 26 last year.
The court heard earlier that a HSE internal investigation found Paden worked under serious stress and never complained about it.
The court also heard earlier from consultant psychiatrist Dr Patricia Noone that father-of-three Paden had been afraid to leave his home in Sligo town since the assault for which he accepted full responsibility, because he feared that the community would be angry and abusive.
Dr Noone found that Paden had suffered guilt, remorse, depression, and panic attacks since the incident. His 10-year-old daughter had been questioned by other children at school about his action, and he was also ashamed of the embarrassment he had caused to his elderly parents in the Philippines who this year celebrate their golden jubilee.
Judge Kilrane, delivering sentence yesterday after considering reports, said Paden was caring for nine patients with most of them in the high-dependancy category.
Paden was tending to another patient suffering from terminal illness and who was irritated by noise being made by Mr Quinn.
The nurse placed a tape over Mr Quinn’s mouth. Detailed investigations had shown shown the work-load in the unit was inequitably distributed with the defendant carrying out an unduly high workload.
It was unsafe unreasonable and there was a seriously inadequate level of staffing.
Judge Kilrane added: “There was severe under-staffing in the unit. He carried a disproportionate and dangerous workload.”
There was no evidence that Mr Quinn was harmed physicially or otherwise by the assault.
The judge noted that Paden was unable to contact Mr Quinn’s family to express his remorse for what he had done but he did ask the HSE to pass it on.
“It is very unfortunate the HSE did not communicate that remorse”, the judge added. “That is very disappointing.”
He noted that Paden had an excellent work record and carried out his duties with diligence. He speculated that because Paden didn’t complain he was lumbered with an unfair workload.
The judge said the assault was an appalling incident but it was a one-off and totally out of character.
He said he found the facts proved but was dismissing the charge under the Probation Act.
Paden, who stood beside his solicitor Mark Mullaney during sentencing, wiped tears from his face as he turned to leave court.
Mr Quinn’s family said they were not commenting on the case for now on legal advice.
Mr Quinn’s brother Christy told an earlier hearing that Kevin had been silent for the past 12 years so he had difficulty understanding the nurse’s claim that he had been shouting.
He said during his evidence: “It was total abuse of a patient and Kevin is very vulnerable. He is totally incapacitated and can’t fight back.”