Nurse 'put patient's glass eye in drink'

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The Independent Online

A nurse dropped a false eye in a glass of cola to play a practical joke on a colleague, a tribunal has heard.

Christine Mitchelson, 53, is also accused of drawing a face on a patient's hernia, subjecting patients to degrading treatment and making racist comments about foreign hospital staff.

The nurse, from Newcastle upon Tyne, has denied 12 allegations of misconduct but was unable to attend yesterday's tribunal in London because of ill-health.The Nursing and Midwifery Council's conduct and competence committee was told yesterday that the allegations against Ms Mitchelson related to alleged incidents between 2001 and 2004 when she was working at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

She faces being struck off if the allegations are upheld.

In one of the allegations, from between March 2001 and May 2002, Ms Mitchelson is accused of giving her colleague Pauline Stanton, the ward sister, a cup of cola containing a patient's glass eye. Staff nurse Marie Kaplanis told the hearing of an incident in late 2001 or early 2002 when she saw Ms Mitchelson drew on a patient.

She said: "I could see the patient's abdomen was exposed. He had a huge umbilical hernia, bigger than my fist. The patient was lying in bed, half sat up, wearing pyjamas. I saw a smiley face drawn on to the umbilical hernia. Everybody was laughing, including the patient."

The tribunal was told of two occasions when Ms Mitchelson made allegedly racist remarks. On 19 February 2004, she allegedly referred to a Chinese nurse as "chinky" and said she was "weird" for bringing Chinese tea to work, adding: "God knows what's in it."

Later that day, Ms Mitchelson allegedly asked Ms Kaplanis, who is from the Philippines, why she did not have "the hands of a nig-nog" like the other Filipina nurses.

Ms Mitchelson is also accused of giving a patient twice the prescribed dose of insulin and of roughly treating five patients by slapping them on the head or pushing them on to a bed or chair.

The hearing continues.