Nurse posts confidential OAP details on Facebook

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A NURSE lost her “unblemished career” by revealing confidential information about an elderly nursing home resident on Facebook and making a series of other blunders.

Susan Mary O’Hara, a former employee of the Milford House nursing home in Duddingston, posted about the pensioner on her page on the social networking site at least once over the course of a week.

She also failed to document the care given to a resident who she was responsible for looking after overnight – and who was found dead the following morning – and made other medication errors.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council panel stopped short of striking O’Hara off its register, but did impose a series of conditions which she must follow.

The inappropriate Facebook activity occurred during March last year, when O’Hara revealed information on the website after visiting one of the home’s residents in hospital.

O’Hara admitted the charge, telling the panel her actions were “naive and stupid”, but said she had thought she had done nothing wrong as she was no longer the woman’s nurse and considered her a friend.

She also accepted that on the night of May 25, 2010, she did not document care given to a resident between the hours of 9.30pm and 3am, before the day shift started and staff found he had died. O’Hara said she had provided care but not updated the notes.

Then, on August 11, 2010, O’Hara failed to administer two drugs to a resident despite signing documentation saying she had done so and on August 29 administered a drug to a resident but failed to sign for it.

O’Hara, who qualified as a nurse in 1976, had a “long and unblemished career” prior to the charges and said she was having personal difficulties when the incidents occurred.

She was not employed as a nurse at the time of last week’s hearing, but a 12-month conditions of practice order was imposed. Among the five conditions were that O’Hara must notify the NMC of any new nursing job and complete a course on the administration of medicines.

Commenting on the use of social media, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “Nurses are, like other people in all walks of life, still coming to terms with the boundaries between the personal and professional.

“The RCN advises its members to keep up to date with the latest guidance on social media use.

“Whether that’s from us, the NMC or their employer, nurses need to know what they can and can’t do on social media.”