Nurse taped patient mouth 'in a moment of stupidness'
A NURSE who placed surgical tape over the mouth of a severely brain damaged patient, accepted that the action amounted to professional misconduct.
Bimbo Paden had worked at St John's Community Hospital in Sligo since 2001, shortly after arriving in Ireland from the Philippines.
He appeared before a Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) fitness-to-practice hearing, facing allegations of professional misconduct. Mr Paden's barrister, Noel Whelan said the action had been "a moment of stupidness".
The inquiry was told he placed white, see-through, surgical tape over the mouth of 'Patient A', a 49-year-old who was resident there for over 10 years, having suffered a brain haemorrhage.
It is also alleged he placed a 'hoist sling' under the same patient, without the assistance of another staff member, in breach of HSE policy.
The man, who weighed over 15st, was a "vulnerable, maximum dependency patient."
He requires full care for all his daily needs, including personal hygiene, and eating.
"The only way he can communicate verbally is through making sounds. These can be for a long or sustained period of time," said barrister Neasa Bird for the CEO of NMBI.
The alleged incident occurred at approximately 11am on June 26 last year, when a colleague, Nurse Tracey Ryan, returned from her break.
She walked to the part of the unit where Mr Paden was working with the male residents. The curtains were around Patient A's bed, but when she put her head through the curtains, she saw Nurse Paden standing at the "head of the bed."
"The tape went from one side of the face to the other. It was enough to keep his mouth closed. He said something like ''it's only been on a minute, I'll take it off now.'"
She recalled Mr Paden had the face of "someone who had been caught in the act."
Mr Paden's barrister, Noel Whelan, told the hearing another resident was in bed directly across from Patient A. This patient had terminal lung cancer, suffered from "cognitive deterioration", and alcohol-related memory loss. He became "upset and distressed" by the "continuous" noise Patient A was making.
Mr Whelan said "in a moment of stupidness" Mr Paden went into the patient's room, and used tape from his pouch to place on his mouth. The 42-year-old was extremely stressed and overworked at the time of the incident, Mr Whelan added.
"Until this incident his care for Patient A was always proper, professional and appropriate."
He said Mr Paden is a "kind hearted" father-of-three and the "sole earner" in his family. He said his client has "accepted" the placing of the tape across the patient's mouth and that it amounted to professional misconduct. He also accepted that he placed the sling under Patient A, but it did not amount to professional misconduct.
He insisted "circumstances" surrounding the incident must also be taken into account.
"He was horrified when he realised what he had done. He is ashamed of his actions," Mr Whelan said.
Mr Paden was given the Probation Act for assault earlier this year at Sligo District Court. A previous court hearing was told a HSE internal investigation found Mr Paden worked under serious stress, and never complained about it.