Stafford Hospital nurse who treated twins who died from overdose avoids suspension


John Fahey
Friday 15 March 2013 16:02
Stafford Hospital, where hundreds of patients are thought to have died needlessly in a four-year period
Stafford Hospital, where hundreds of patients are thought to have died needlessly in a four-year period

A nurse who helped treat twins who died from a huge overdose of morphine at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital has been allowed to keep working.

Joanne Thompson admitted a series of charges before a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practise hearing in London this week.

But the panel today ruled her fitness to practise "was not impaired".

An inquest into the deaths of the twins, Alfie and Harry McQuillan, who died on November 1 2010, heard that they were given an "excessive" dose of morphine hours after their birth at Stafford Hospital.

The babies were born at 27 weeks.

The panel heard that the brothers, referred to in the proceedings as twin one and twin two, received 600 and 850 microgrammes of morphine respectively.

They should have been given between 50 and 100 microgrammes.

Mrs Thompson, a senior staff nurse in the hospital's special care baby unit, was accused of allowing a more junior nurse, Lisa Lucas, prepare for the administration and/or administer the drug to the twins with the help of a junior doctor whom she should have known was insufficiently experienced.

The NMC panel found this claim was not proved.

The nurse admitted not being present throughout the whole morphine administration process, that she did not check it was properly diluted, and she did not call for medical help to check the administration.

Mrs Thompson denied a series of charges including failing to take the clinical lead of nursing care when required in relation to the administration of the morphine to the babies.

Mrs Thompson broke down in tears as the aftermath of what happened was discussed.

The nurse's "main concern" had been to save the lives of the twins, the panel, led by chairman, Graham Park, said.

In its written ruling, the panel congratulated Mrs Thompson on being a "highly competent nurse".

It said: "In the panel's judgment its finding of no misconduct in these particular circumstances, would not undermine the public confidence in the nursing profession and the standards expected of nurses.

"The panel was impressed by the numerous and consistently very positive references and testimonials provided by your employers and professional colleagues, including the Trust's lead consultant paediatrician, the director of nursing and midwifery and a junior member of staff who works under your supervision.

"It is abundantly clear that all those individuals have a high level of confidence in your professional skills, knowledge, and good character.

"There is no evidence to suggest that your current standard of practise presents any risk to the public, and in particular to patients.

"Rather the evidence shows that you are a highly competent nurse of considerable experience, capable of maintaining proper standards of nursing care, conduct and performance."

Last month's publication of the Francis inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital showed there were up to 1,200 excess deaths between 2005 and 2009.


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