Saturday, December 05, 2009


Nurse struck off for having sex with depressed patient


December 3, 2009, smh

A NURSE who told a mentally ill patient at Blue Mountains Hospital that she loved her and later had a sexual relationship with her has been struck off the register for a year for professional misconduct.

Susan Tate, who has 20 years' nursing experience, put her needs above that of a vulnerable woman with borderline personality disorder and a long history of depression, a tribunal has found.

Ms Tate, an enrolled nurse, gave the woman her rose quartz ring to wear while she was staying in the acute ward of the mental health unit at the hospital in June 2007, her second admission for that year.

Ms Tate also gave the patient marijuana, knowing she was on antidepressants, after she was discharged and moved in with her for a few days. The patient and her two sons then moved in with Ms Tate in late July and stayed there for two months. The Nurses and Midwives Tribunal of NSW ordered on November 26 that Ms Tate be struck off for a year and said that she lacked insight into the effect her actions had on the patient, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

''Ms Tate said she knew of [the woman's] psychiatric condition and eating disorder, so she knew of Patient A's particular vulnerabilities,'' the tribunal said in its judgment.

''Nevertheless [Ms Tate] allowed this relationship to develop over time into a full-blown sexual relationship because of her needs for such a relationship.

''This was a serious breach of boundaries in which Ms Tate put her needs above that of a psychiatrically ill patient.''

The friendship began when the patient was in hospital from April 17 to May 3, 2007. It then developed during her second admission that year, from June 15 to July 3.

Ms Tate told the patient in April words to the effect, ''you don't belong in a mental health unit'' and that she was attractive and articulate. In June, she hugged the patient and told her that she loved her and they discussed the issue of sexuality.

''We talked about what gay sex was like and she kind-of joked about that … but I told her that I had not been in a gay relationship before so I really didn't know anything much about it, and she said, 'That doesn't matter,' the patient told the tribunal.

''She said that she loved me and at that stage I was feeling totally unlovable and, you know, unloved, really, and so I said, 'Yeah, I love you too'.''

Ms Tate left her employment in August 2007.