On 4 and 5 May 2021 the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered two charges of professional misconduct laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Mr Vineeth Vijayan Sheela, registered nurse of Nelson (the Nurse).
The charges alleged that:
1. On a nightshift in 2018 while providing nursing care to a patient, the Nurse breached professional boundaries in that he:
1.1 Asked if he could hug the patient;
1.2 The Nurse hugged the patient; and
1.3 The Nurse kissed the patient on or about the cheek or neck.
2. On one other occasion in 2018 while providing nursing care to the patient, the Nurse breached professional boundaries in that he:
2.1 Hugged the patient;
2.2 Asked if he could kiss the patient;
2.3 Kissed the patient on or about the neck;
2.4 Kissed the patient on the mouth; and
2.5 As the patient if he get on her bed.
The Nurse worked on the night shift of late August early September 2018 and on a night in September 2018. It is alleged that the Nurse breached professional boundaries by giving his patient a hug and kissing her on each occasion.
After the second occasion, the patient disclosed what had happened to a registered nurse who had been assigned to her the next morning. This was relayed to the Charge Nurse Manager who escalated the complaint to the Associate Director of Nursing and Operations at the hospital.
As a result, the Nurse met with the Acting Director of Nursing at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (DHB).
The Nurse subsequently resigned from his employment.
The Nurse admitted to hugging the patient but denied that he kissed her and the other aspects of the charges.
The Tribunal found that charge 1 was established. As admitted by the Nurse, he did ask to hug the patient, she consented, and he did hug her (Particulars 1.1 and 1.2). The Tribunal was satisfied that on this occasion he also kissed the patient on the cheek or on her neck (Particular 1.3).
The Tribunal also found that charge 2 in all its particulars, was established.
The Tribunal was satisfied that the Nurse’s professional misconduct, both separately and cumulatively, amounted to malpractice and had brought and is likely to bring discredit to the profession pursuant to ss 100(1)(a) and (b) of the HPCA Act.
- Cancelled the Nurse’s registration
- Imposed conditions upon the Nurse if he is to reapply:
- Censured the Nurse
- Ordered the Nurse to pay 50% of the costs amounting to $30,000.00.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision and a summary.