Longtime Nurse Pries into Medical Issues of Colleague’s Family

Healthcare and Public Health

A woman identified as “Mrs. L” inappropriately accessed electronic clinical records of patients on 19 different occasions.

“A colleague of Mrs. L had her records, as well as those of some members of her family and those of people with the same last name, accessed by her,” Stuff reports.

She apparently was driven by significant workplace stress that had accumulated over five years. “Mrs. L said she never had any malice in accessing the records and never used them or disclosed them to anyone else,” according to Stuff.

The district health board had been aware of a dysfunctional employment relationship, but the situation was never addressed.

Mrs. L was a charge nurse with 40 years of experience and knew it was a violation of patient privacy to access the records for her own purposes.  She reported her misconduct.

''The practitioner was under a high level of physiological distress at the time of the offending," tribunal chairwoman Maria Dew said. "It is clear from the medical reports produced both shortly after she admitted the offending and the report prepared by Dr. S for this tribunal, that the practitioner was, at the time of the offending, suffering with a significant workplace stress that caused her to lose professional judgement and access the medical records.''

The husband of Mrs. L's colleague said Mrs. L would have understood exactly what test results in his records meant. ''She accessed my laboratory and radiology results several times,'' said Mr. L, who worked at the same district health board. “I can't understand what would drive an individual to go to these lengths. She has destroyed a family.''

The snooping nurse, who attributed the stress to a difficult working relationship with the couple, also accessed the files of their two daughters, according to NZ Newswire

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