Nurse keeps job for two years despite blunders

Liberton Hospital
Liberton Hospital
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A BLUNDERING nurse clung on to her job for more than two years despite making a catalogue of “incredible” errors while working on Lothian hospital wards.

Affiong Patrick Antiah, who was employed as a staff nurse at Liberton Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital, gave a drug to the wrong patient and drew up a dose of a heart slowing drug that was too high, with potentially fatal consequences, within two months of starting her induction with NHS Lothian.

The Royal Victoria Hospital. Picture: Sean Bell

The Royal Victoria Hospital. Picture: Sean Bell

She went on to make dozens of major mistakes and displayed a lack of knowledge of even the basics of medication and patient care. They included potentially causing asphyxiation by going to administer drugs orally to a “nil by mouth” patient, incorrectly assembling an oxygen mask and not giving epilepsy medication to a patient.

She also incorrectly advised a patient that folic acid was an iron tablet, was not aware amoxycillin contains penicillin and blacked out records on a medication sheet – a legal document – after making a mistake.

But instead of being sacked by NHS Lothian, the nurse, who held a band five post which now attracts pay of up to £27,900 per year, was repeatedly asked to write “reflective pieces” after making the dangerous mishaps, was sent on workshops and was offered the “intensive support” and supervision of more senior staff, while continuing to be allowed to administer drugs.

It took five capability meetings before Ms Antiah was finally dismissed by health bosses, in part because she “posed a clinical risk to patients”.

At a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing this month, more than 50 separate allegations were found to be proven against the nurse.

Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “The failings set out here are really quite incredible, and would be the kind of shortcomings you’d expect from someone who’d never set foot in a hospital.

“Nurses have to work incredibly hard at university and on the job to get to where they are because it’s a pretty rigorous learning curve. That makes it even more bizarre that this nurse could get so far knowing so little. Some very vulnerable patients were being put in harm’s way as a result.”

The NMC found that Ms Antiah had “failed to demonstrate the standards of knowledge, skill and judgement required to practice without supervision as a qualified band 5 nurse”, that her “record-keeping was deficient” and that her “clinical reasoning and/or clinical decision-making were deficient”.

But the panel stopped short of striking her off its register. Instead, Ms Antiah, who 
complained that she had been bullied and discriminated against while working at the health board, was given a strict conditions of practice order.

In an online petition entitled “Stop racism in the healthcare industry” believed to have been signed by Ms Antiah and claiming she had a degree in heath care studies and a diploma in nursing, a comment under her name said she had been bullied by “senior members” and added: “If my color [sic] was white I would have got full support that I needed as a newly qualified nurse, even the same errors have been commited by a white nurse but brushed under the carpet.”

The hearing was told that since being dismissed by NHS Lothian in August 2009, Ms Antiah had gone on to work as a healthcare assistant and currently has a job in a nursing home. She took three courses at Napier University after being sacked, but passed only one.

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “These are very serious misdemeanours and they had the opportunity to say enough is enough. They can’t have been thinking straight to keep her on for two years. She should have been sent back to university.”

Melanie Hornett, NHS Lothian’s nurse director, said: “We have a capability policy in place for all employees, when poor performance is identified. This allows a supportive approach to be taken. However, if subsequent training, referral to independent counselling services or consideration of alternative employment fails to produce the required improvement, then dismissal on the grounds of incapability is considered.”

Ms Antiah could not be reached for comment.