AN AGED care nurse who stole medications for serious health conditions like cardiac, kidney and hypertension problems from dementia patients because she'd "had enough of getting hauled into the office" has had her registration suspended for six months.
Jane Elizabeth Massey, also known as Jane Elizabeth Goodbee, was working at Raymond Terrace Garden Care until she resigned on August 16, 2021.
Three days earlier, local police had found sealed medication sachets belonging to 22 residents at the aged care home in a bag on the corner of Cook and Bank streets at Raymond Terrace, containing 24 doses that were supposed to be administered between April and August, 2021.
There were about 18 different types of medication that hadn't been administered, some Schedule 4 prescription-only medication and critical medication for serious health conditions including cardiac, kidney and hypertension problems. With her bag, police located a pink lanyard, a Regis Aged Care Facility key and a visitor pass with Massey's name on it.
At one point, Massey claimed she wasn't sure about her work's policy on discarding medications, so she intended to take them home but her bag was stolen from her car. On August 16, she told police she was aware of the policy for disposing of medication, saying "maybe I put them in my pocket" and that the medication would have been in the side door pockets of her car and "I would have just emptied my pockets out".
Massey was charged on September 1, 2021, later pleaded guilty to larceny, was convicted and ordered to enter a community correction order for 12 months in Raymond Terrace Local Court.
Records at the aged care home showed Massey would sign records indicating medication had been given to the patients when it had not, meaning a number of patients never received their pills. Massey's explanation was that residents had refused the drugs and that she had brought the issue up "with the doctors". During a hearing in September, Massey said she believed she could refuse the medications and there was an issue with how to dispose of them.
"People have disposed of medications and got in trouble for how they disposed of them," she said.
"There was no clear cut policy and a few other issues, and also, they were saying, they were - the AINs had made accusations, they were trivial, but like, I had smoked in the wrong area, I didn't help them answer buzzers, like, they're just trivial things and I'd had enough of getting hauled into the office.
"We used to put them in the sharps bin and then we got in trouble for doing that ... from management. I should've disposed of the medications more appropriately. So, for that, I'm in the wrong. Yes, I shouldn't have had them just sitting in my car to be stolen."
In cross-examination, Massey said she recorded medications for patients as "administered" instead of "declined" by mistake - because she was busy or distracted. But, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the errors appeared on a number of occasions on different days over a reasonably lengthy period in the facility's records. It did not accept that the incidents were simply errors, and also didn't accept that the patients had declined their medication each time the entries were made.
"It is therefore not out of the question, and in our view, more likely, that the respondent [Massey] was not disposing of the medication on the premises so as to avoid detection," the findings said.
"The respondent was keeping secret the medications which she said had been recorded as "administered" by placing them in her bag which was taken home."
The tribunal found her conduct was "fundamentally undermining" the system designed to care for vulnerable patients. After Massey was convicted in court, she failed to notify the National Board as required within seven days. In its November findings, the tribunal ordered Massey to undertake the education course "Medications: How we do it better", to see her doctor within three months and to work under indirect supervision after her suspension. She is prohibited from undertaking agency nursing and must provide a copy of the reasons for the decision and the orders in her case to all current and future employers.