Court orders nurse embroiled in drugs scandal be reinstated

A COURT has ordered that a Sunshine Coast nurse who was unsuccessfully prosecuted and then sacked for allegedly mismanaging addictive medical-grade drugs be reinstated.

Emergency department nurse Geraldine Catherine Ord lodged an application with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in September, 2013 to be reinstated after the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service sacked her earlier in the month.

Ms Ord claimed her dismissal from Nambour Hospital was harsh, unjust, unreasonable and for an invalid reason.

The commission heard, during a week long hearing in September last year, the first Ms Ord knew that she was being investigated was when police turned up on her doorstep in August, 2012.

She was subsequently charged with two counts of stealing as a servant and two counts of falsifying records over her alleged handling and mismanagement of schedule eight drugs, namely Fentanyl.

Ms Ord, as a result of being charged, had restrictions placed on her in October, 2012 and was suspended from work the following month with full pay.

However, the criminal charges against Ms Ord were dropped in March, 2013 and she was awarded $8036 in costs following a hearing in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court.

But later that month Ms Ord received a letter from SCHHS setting out 33 allegations against her regarding her professional conduct and asking her to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken.

Ms Ord provided a full response to the allegations on April 12, 2013.

Ms Ord received a reply from SCHHS on May 29, 2013 setting out their findings surrounding the allegations and said she had seven days to show cause as to why her employment should not be terminated.

The commission heard a random audit of the emergency department's controlled drug registry in December, 2012 found numerous abnormalities and one of the pages had been cut out.

There was no suggestion Ms Ord was responsible for the missing page.

The commission heard that seven nurses were identified and five were given the opportunity to respond to the allegations, but the commission heard Ms Ord was not informed of the allegations or given the right of response.

Commissioner John Thompson, in handing down his decision, said there was evidence the SCHHS had pre-determined to terminate Ms Ord's employment once they had completed the show cause process.

He found the investigation was flawed.

Commissioner Thompson ordered Ms Ord's employment be reinstated without prejudice, her employment be maintained, the SCHHS pay Ms Ord lost remuneration from the date of the dismissal until the date of reinstatement and that Ms Ord's reinstatement be effected within 21 days.


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