Scottish nurse suspended after placing cushion over 'problem' child's face

A nurse put a cushion over the face of a child on a Glasgow hospital ward - and claimed he 'could not see any other way to deal with' the little boy.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 11:55 am
The incident took place at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. Picture: TSPL

Paul Denis-Smith was suspended after the shocking incident at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.Denis-Smith had received restraint training just two days beforehand - and claimed he had been asked to put a cushion between medics and the little boy, to prevent colleagues being headbutted.But a tribunal dismissed this as 'implausible', and banned him from working as a nurse for a year.Denis-Smith was working at an inpatient unit for children under 12 with mental health problems on March 24, 2016, when the incident with the cushion happened.A formal complaint to the health board about the nurse was made by the child's mother, who is also a nurse.A report from the tribunal said: "You told the panel that you could not see any other way to deal with the patient."You told the panel the patient was not calming down or able to be mediated with. You told the panel that you had never seen anything as aggressive as this incident before or since and that two members of staff were injured by the patient during the incident."You told the panel that there was no further action in respect of yourself in regards to the complaint received from the mother of the patient."The panel noted the highly charged nature of event and considered your account of events implausible."The nurse was later deemed "not safe" to practise and moved to a non-clinical role following a string of other errors, including not knowing what medication had been given to patients.An inquiry by nursing regulators found he had received training in managing aggressive patients two days before the incident.The nurse claimed he had been asked to put a cushion between the staff nurse involved in the restraint and the patient to prevent his colleagues from being "head-butted" and spat at.However, an inquiry described his explanation as "implausible" and gave more weight to a powerful and balanced letter written by the child's mother, which was backed up by other staff.A nurse advisor for the children and adolescent's mental health service (CAMHS) said that "under no circumstances" would it ever be appropriate to use a cushion in a situation like this due to the risk of suffocation.The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said: "The panel considered, although the mother's letter is hearsay evidence, that it was a powerfully written letter which was balanced in her view of the care provided to her child."The panel noted that the mother was familiar with the ward and was a nurse herself."The panel noted that Colleague A told the panel the letter was an accurate description as to the manner in which you could behave."The panel, therefore, attributed more weight to this letter than it may ordinarily to hearsay evidence."It also emerged that the nurse was moved from Skye House at Stobhill Hospital, for patients aged 12-17, because there were concerns over his practice.It was felt that the move to the children's ward would be a "quieter environment" for him to complete extra training.However, other concerns were flagged up to bosses including being unaware what drugs had been given to young patients and failing to tell a colleague he had gone on a break while in charge of the ward as well as recording inaccurate information in a patient's notes.During assessments by managers, the nurse did not appear to know that a patient suffering from an epileptic seizure should be placed in the recovery position and was unable to explain what various drugs were used for.Denis-Smith resigned from his job in January this year and has now been banned from working as a nurse for the next 12 months.The NMC said it was unable to impose a striking off order at this time because the nurse's practice was impaired "due to a lack of competence".At the end of the period of suspension, another panel will review the sanction.

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