A female nurse has now been banned from working at the Aintree University Hospital.
Veronica Ali, a nurse at the Waterloo Dialysis Unit in the Aintree University Hospital was caught in the act “kissing the face off” a blind patient.
The nurse was said to have taken the information of the blind patient who has not been named and took his phone number.
One panel from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard that Veronica Ali had visited the blind patient after obtaining his records. During Ali’s visits, she had been putting the patient’s hands on her breasts and told him that she had been “dying to do this for ages”. It was also the patient’s relatives who caught the Ali “kissing the face off” of the patient.
Veronica Ali resigned from work in September 2016 but she continued working there until October, and was banned from the hospital afterwards.
The patient was said to be blind for almost 10 years and had complex needs, such as dialysis regularly.
One report from the council’s Fitness to Practice Committee said, “Patient A was a vulnerable patient with complex medical needs. As a result of the relationship breakdown, he felt so uncomfortable on the unit that he felt the need to request a transfer to a different facility to continue his dialysis treatment. This would have been very difficult for him given that he had been a regular patient on the unit having attended three times per week for a considerable length of time.”
During the final hearing which happened last month, the panel discovered that the blind patient received a call from Ali in January 2015.
The blind patient said that Ali had called him and gave him a clinical excuse. Shortly after the call, Ali appeared at the patient’s doorstep.
The report said, “In an interview with (a doctor) on August 11, 2016, Patient A informed (the doctor) that the first time you visited him at his home, you took hold of his hands and put them on your breasts and you said that you knew you should not be doing this but had been ‘dying to do this for ages’ and that things carried on from there.”
The patient was said to be flattered of the said attention and allowed a romantic relationship between them which lasted for around six to eight months.
This was the time when Ali urged the patient to use Viagra which is supposed to be a medication for erectile dysfunction.
Over time, the relationship faded and the patient told the panel that Ali was becoming controlling in their relationship.
In April 2016, a month wherein the two have broken up already, the patient was supposed to be going home early as he finished his dialysis earlier than schedule, however, Ali refused to assist the patient. The patient was left in a locked up ward and was said to have felt ‘imprisoned’.
The panel said, “In the panel’s judgement, your actions represented a blatant disregard for Patient A’s care and you chose to go on a break rather than assisting him in leaving the unit. It was Patient A’s evidence that when he told you that he intended to make a complaint about the way in which you had behaved you told him to ‘bring it on’.”
The NMC, which maintains the UK’s register of qualified nurses, have suspended Ali from nursing for nine months.
As a nurse, it is our duty to protect the patient’s confidentiality. Breaching the patient’s confidentiality may make us liable and may lead to lawsuits.
In Veronica Ali’s case, she was brought in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and was suspended from nursing for nine months because of such behavior.
Going beyond professional boundaries
The act of nursing care may grant a feeling of intimacy between the nurse and the patient. This feeling may lead to something beyond the professional.
However, as a nurse, we are obligated to keep the relationships between patients strictly professional. This should not be used as a stepping stone for something romantic, business or financial involvement.
One example is when the patient openly offers you a romantic cruise after discharge and might even offer you a job. Accepting such invitation is legally and ethically improper. Even transferring to another job would not change the fact that you are crossing the line. As a nurse, we are always bound by the nursing ethics.
As a medical professional, it is our duty to establish rapport and to maintain a highly professional relationship with our patients. Nurse practice acts, board of nursing regulations would require a nurse to always prioritize the patient’s safety more than any other.
In a nurse-patient relationship, it is always the nurse that holds the position of power and authority. Patients look up on us during their most vulnerable times and are more susceptible to influence. This should not be taken advantage of, as such, professional boundaries exist in order to protect them in their lowest times.
Aside from romantic relationships, the following are also ethically improper:
- Accepting money and gifts from the patient
- Giving of gifts and money to the patient
- Having social contact with previous patients
- Involving yourself on the patient’s personal life
- Purchasing items or selling products from and to the patients
It is best to maintain a relationship with a patient based on trust, compassion and respect. Engaging in such relationships may tarnish a nurse’s reputation and may bring harm not only to the patient, but also to the nurse as well. It is always important to keep the relationship professionally. Let us all remember the vow we took along with our profession. To abstain from whatever deleterious and mischievous and to zealously seek to nurse those who are ill wherever they may be and whenever they are in need. Let us not forget that we have pledged to maintain and elevate the standard of our profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters.