A NURSE placed surgical tape over the mouth of a severely brain damaged patient, who could not speak, after a terminally ill cancer sufferer with memory loss became "distressed" by the "loud" noises he was making.
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 this morning facing allegations of professional misconduct.
The inquiry was told that on June 26 last year he placed white surgical tape over the mouth of 'Patient A', a 49-year-old who was resident there for 13 years having suffered a brain haemorrhage.
"He knew or ought to have known that this was inappropriate," the hearing was told.
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 is a "vulnerable, maximum dependency patient", who requires full care for all his daily needs, including personal hygiene and eating.
"He cannot speak but can make noises. 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 NMBI CEO.
Bimbo Paden, a 42-year-old male nurse, was extremely stressed and overworked at the time of the incident, Mr Paden's barrister Noel Whelan said.
"Until this incident his care for Patient A was always proper, professional and appropriate."
He said Mr Paden is a father-of-three and is the "sole earner" in his family.
He had worked as a nurse before he arrived in Ireland in 2000.
Mr Whelan said his client has "accepted" the placing of surgical tape across the patient's mouth had occurred, and that it amounted to professional misconduct.
But 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," he said.
"It was inappropriate and not in accordance with the care plan for this patient."
"From the outset nurse Paden has indicated his wish to apologise to the patient and the family of Patient A," 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 Health Service Executive (HSE) internal investigation found Mr Paden worked under serious stress, and never complained about it.
Detailed investigations had shown the workload in the unit was inequitably distributed with Mr Paden carrying out an unduly high workload.
It is the first public fitness to practise inquiry by the NMBI, which has replaced An Bord Altranais.
The hearing continues.