Monthly Archives: September 2013

Psychiatric nurse struck off for sex with patient

A nurse has been reprimanded and suspended after embarking on a sexual relationship with a psychiatric patient from the hospital he worked at and taking her prescription medication.

Leslie James Hill-Murray, 52, a former nurse at the Austin Hospital, was working night shift in the acute psychiatric unit in June 2010 when he met the patient, a 40-year-old woman.

The pair spoke about his living arrangements and within three weeks, he had moved into her home and they were in a sexual relationship.

In September, after a fight fuelled by his drinking and consumption of prescription drugs – including the woman’s opiates – police took out an intervention order against Mr Hill-Murray on the woman’s behalf.

Police later decided not to lay any charges against Mr Hill-Murray, who had been verbally and physically abusive towards the woman, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The nurse also told police that the abuse had been ongoing during the brief relationship. Police notified the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, who decided to take action.

Days after the fight between the woman and Mr Hill-Murray, he was admitted as a voluntary patient at The Alfred hospital, where he confessed to the illicit relationship with his former patient and his use of prescription opiates to nurses.

Nurses also notified authorities and the board suspended Mr Hill-Murray in September 2010.

In their recently published finding, VCAT members Mary Archibald and Marietta Bylhouwer affirmed the board’s suspension and banned Mr Hill from applying for his registration again for 12 months, effective from August 30.

“We are firmly of the view that the conduct of having sexual relationships with a former patient and physical and verbal abuse of a former patient does fall short – to a substantial degree – of the standard of conduct observed or approved by members of the profession of good repute and competency,” the members said.

“Such conduct is a deliberate departure from the accepted standards as to portray an indifference and an abuse of the privilege which accompany registration as a nurse.”

The members said that if, after 12 months, Mr Hill-Murray was determined to be a fit and proper person, he could regain his registration.

“It is important that the public be protected from this conduct,” the members said. “It should in no way be looked at as if it is trivial or anything of that nature. It is conduct of a very serious matter. At this particular time, we cannot be satisfied that there is not likely to be a repetition of this conduct.”

The members also emphasised that other members of the nursing profession must be sent a strong message that Mr Hill-Murray’s behaviour was unacceptable.

Source: Adrian Lowe, “Austin Hospital nurse struck off over sex with patient,” The Age, September 25, 2013.

Psych hospital failed to protect dignity and well-being of patients

A mental health hospital in Tottenham has failed to meet minimum standards of patient care and welfare, according to an independent report.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said St Ann’s Hospital, in St Ann’s Road, needed to take action to protect the welfare of people who are admitted.

The report into the hospital, which is run by the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, was published last month.

During the inspection it was discovered that seclusion rooms – where patients are put when they are a risk to others – were being used as extra bed space.

In the report, inspectors said: “One member of staff on Haringey Assessment Ward told us there were not enough beds for the number of patients needing to be admitted.

“They told us the trust was using seclusion rooms to admit patients into temporarily until beds were found.”

Inspectors found that seclusion rooms, which are unfurnished except for a mattress, had been used as patient bedrooms for 29 nights between the May 6 and June 24 of this year.

In some instances patients sleeping in the rooms had to be woken up so dangerous patients could be put in isolation.

The report found the practice “affected the dignity and wellbeing” of people who used the service.

A member of staff at the hospital also told inspectors that when someone who does not need to be isolated is in the seclusion room there is supposed to be an open door policy.

However inspectors found that the door is locked “due to risk” and patients must ask to leave.

Anita Hudson, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind in Haringey, said it was shocking that some of most vulnerable people in society were being treated in this way.

She went on to criticise the trust’s plans for the redevelopment for the hospital which will see the number of bedrooms reduced from 50 to around 35.

Ms Hudson said: “The number of people who suffer from mental illness is set to double in next 20 years.

“They don’t have enough beds for the patients they have now so how can they hope to cope when they reduce the number of beds available.

“It’s like me getting married and planning to have kids but at the same time I move into a one-bedroom house which I plan to live in for the next ten years.”

The CQC ordered the trust to provide a report to outlining what improvement will be made to address the situation by September 11.

A spokesman for the mental health trust said the care and welfare of patients is a top priority and it has taken immediate action to address the concerns raised.

She said: “Because of an exceptionally high demand for inpatient beds which is being experienced nationally, we have occasionally had to use alternatives for emergency out of hours admissions.

“This is an exceptional and temporary measure as the patient is moved as soon as we have the capacity on one of our wards.

“We continue to work with our service users to respond to their individual needs and to ensure they have access to high quality treatment.”

Source: Jaber Mohamed, “Care Quality Commission finds St Ann’s Hospital, in Tottenham, failed to protect dignity and wellbeing of patients,” Haringey Independent, September 24, 2013.

Puerto Rico psychiatrist arrested for sex trafficking of a minor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency says a Puerto Rican psychiatrist has been arrested for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and sex trafficking of a minor.

On Saturday, the ICE said the arrest was made by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers.

HSI special agents arrested Gerardo V. Navarro-Rodriguez at his medical office in Caguas, Puerto Rico after an investigation revealed he allegedly “induced, coerced and enticed at least one 17-year-old male to engage in commercial sexual acts.”

The investigation was spurred by a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department, ICE said.

According to the criminal complaint, Navarro-Rodriguez was a psychiatrist working for APS Healthcare Puerto Rico. APS is a private corporation contracted by the Puerto Rican government and is the sole provider of mental health services under The Puerto Rico Health Reform, “Mi Salud.”

In his position as a psychiatrist for APS, Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez provided, among other things, psychiatric therapy sessions to children and adolescent victims of sexual abuse.

From about October 2011 through May, a male minor identified as John Doe was a patient of Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez.

The criminal complaint alleges that, during this period, the doctor committed lewd acts and sexual assault against the victim on several occasions.

If convicted, Navarro-Rodriguez faces between 10 years and life in prison.

The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

Source: “Puerto Rican psychiatrist arrested on child exploitation, sex trafficking charges,” www.go-jamaica.com, September 29, 2013.

State suspends mental health counselor Holly Vashti George for sex with client

On May 24, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) censured mental health counselor Holly Vashti George (aka Holly Vashti Jones) and suspended her for no less than one year.

According to the DoH’s statement of charges, George entered into a sexual relationship with a patient.

George met the patient in March 2011 at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and began treating him in August 2011. During treatment, she hugged, held, caressed and made sexual comments to the patient on several occasions.

Jones allowed the patient to stay overnight at her house and shared personal information with him, including details of her family and marital situation. She additionally purchased an airline ticket for him to accompany her and several others to Hawaii, where the two stayed in a villa she’d rented.

The patient evidently began treatment with another mental health care provider about a month later. In March 2012, the patient attempted suicide. The DoH’s document states that the patient’s “fear and depression from his experience with [George] were a cause of his attempted suicide.”

Psychiatrist Ronald L. Leon on probation for sex with former patient

On June 19, 2013, the Medical Board of California placed psychiatrist Ronald L. Leon on probation for five years with terms and conditions for gross negligence and unprofessional conduct.

The Board’s document states that Leon engaged in a social, sexual and intimate relationship with a former patient; provided medication samples and counseling to the former patient in ignorance of and violation of his profession’s ethical code.

The terms of his probation include additional continuing education, including a remedial medical education course, and courses in ethics, prescribing practices and professional boundaries.

State issues accusation against psychiatrist Guy Gullion

On July 1, 2013, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Guy Roger Gullion for boundary violations, gross negligence, violation of ethical standards and sexual misconduct.

The Board’s document states that Gullion gave a patient $200 cash when she stated that she could not afford her daughter’s school pictures. In return, the patient gave Gullion two gift certificates for massages (the patient worked as a massage therapist). When Gullion arrived for his massage, he disrobed in front of the patient and exposed his genitals. He then laid face down, exposing his buttocks. While being massaged, he began to gyrate his hips and reached for the patient’s legs several times.

The document also states that the patient reported to the Board that Gullion engaged in inappropriate behavioral during treatment sessions, including telling the patient that she was stunningly beautiful, that their relationship was bigger than the confines of his of the walls of his office, hugging her at the end of sessions and telling her that she’d made his day.

In an interview with a Board investigator, Gullion admitted that his conduct was a clear ethics and boundary violation.

Psychiatric nurse disqualified for sexual relationship with patient

A nurse who helped a schizophrenic patient flee her abusive husband and then started a sexual relationship with her has been disqualified from Australia’s health workers’ register for two years.

Mark Jackson was working at Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service, south of Perth, in 2010 when he began the relationship with his patient, ‘Ms L’, who had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia since 2006.

A State Administrative Tribunal ruling revealed Jackson was appointed as the woman’s case manager in early 2010 after she was hospitalised following a psychotic episode that brought on several suicide attempts.

Later that year, after Ms L had revealed she was in a marriage of “sexual, psychological and at times physical abuse”, Jackson arranged transport for her and her daughter to move to crisis accommodation.

He then entered a residential lease with her, paid a rental bond and four weeks rent, and bought furniture.

The relationship then became sexual.

In a letter to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency later that year, Jackson admitted “the relationship boundaries rapidly became blurred”.

“I did have a consentual [sic] sexual relationship with the patient. This is unacceptable from a professional and moral standpoint,” he wrote.

Jackson said while he was trying to help the patient, his behaviour was “totally out of character”, saying he was suffering a deep depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time as a result of his work as a mental health nurse.

Judge David Parry, deputy president of the SAT, said in a judgement that Jackson was clearly guilty of professional misconduct as alleged by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

He was disqualified from applying for registration as a registered health practitioner until 2015, and ordered to pay $2069 in costs.

Jackson resigned as a nurse in April 2011, surrendered his registration, and told the SAT he does not intend to resume his nursing career.

Source: Tim Clarke, “Nurse had sex with schizophrenic patient,” The West Australian, September 18, 2013.