Nurse taped mouth of patient in 'unsafe hospital', court told
A NURSE who taped the mouth of a patient in a 'moment of complete stupidity' had been left alone to care for nine patients in an 'inequitable and unsafe' hospital, a damning HSE report read to a court has said.
Filipino-born Bimbo Paden sobbed throughout his appearance at Sligo District Court where he faced one charge of assault, with a judge in the case saying he had "broken under the stress".
The father of three has admitted using surgical tape on patient Kevin Quinn at the St John's long-term care hospital in Sligo on June 26 last year.
Mr Quinn (49), from Loughbear, Rathmullen, Ballymote, has been a patient at the hospital requiring 24-hour care since suffering from a brain haemorrhage 13 years ago.
In his statement to gardai, in which he expressed 'deep remorse', the 39-year-old nurse told how he started work on the day of the assault at 8.30am.
He had to deal with nine patients, all with multiple needs and most needing to be washed, toileted, dressed and fed.
Around 90 minutes into his shift, said Paden, Mr Quinn had been shouting and upsetting a patient suffering from the later stages of cancer.
He said he had rubbed Mr Quinn's shoulder and tried to reassure him but as the noise continued he had, "in a moment of complete stupidity", placed surgical tape over his mouth.
Staff nurse Tracey Ryan arrived in the ward a few moments later and he had removed the tape.
"It was on his mouth for a short time only," said Paden in his statement.
"I have nursed in the Rosses unit for six years.
"I have a great relationship with him (Mr Quinn) and there was no anger or malice on my part."
The victim's brother Christy fought back tears as he told Judge Kevin Kilrane: "When I used to go into him he would love you to touch him but now when I put my hand on his face he pushes you away.
"It was total abuse of a patient and Kevin is very vulnerable.
"He is totally incapacitated and he can't fight back and say what happened to him."
The judge asked defence solicitor Mark Mullaney to read the conclusions of an HSE investigation into the incident.
The report found Paden's allocated workload was "inequitable and unsafe".
He had worked in a "risky working environment with little support and inadequate management".
The report found Paden, of River Road, Sligo, was "deeply remorseful" but that there could be "no excuse" for what had happened.
However, it was not possible to assess the possible psychological damage to Mr Quinn because of his illness.
Judge Kilrane said that on the morning of the incident the nurse had been involved in detailed and extensive care of nine patients.
"It is of note, that he (Paden) never complained – that is in his favour and against him – he was working very hard and working in a system which required the impossible to be done," said the judge.
"It is difficult to see how one nurse can do this and do it in a safe manner. Maybe he should have complained?
"How far that would have gotten, I'm not sure.
"In any event he didn't complain; he broke under stress."
The judge said stress can cloud judgment and that Paden "was under serious stress with inadequate if any support from management".
Perhaps he hadn't complained, said the judge, because the nurse came "from a culture of hard work".
The court heard Paden, who had a clear record, was still suspended from duties and the subject of a separate investigation by the nursing authorities.
Judge Kilrane said the case was "too important" not to be given the "greatest consideration" and the accused before sentencing.
The case was adjourned to April 10.