Merseyside nurse suspended after medical errors and ‘wilful’ dishonesty

The nurse said she had “upheld the standards of professional conduct”

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A Merseyside nurse incorrectly administered medications, left patients requiring supervision unattended and deliberately sought to mislead colleagues about her employment.

An investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found the actions of Sarah Knight had fallen “significantly short of the standards expected of a registered nurse” during her time working at Southport Hospital and two care homes in the town between October 2018 and February 2020.

A report by the NMC detailed how the former cardiology ward nurse made a “series of medication errors” and failed several assessments at the hospital, including administering incorrectly cut tablets and failing to give a patient insulin.

It was found Mrs Knight also “wilfully” breached conditions imposed on her ability to work in the medical profession when she moved onto a care home in 2020. As a result, she has been suspended from working for at least three months.

Investigation: The report detailed how Mrs Knight’s role at Southport Hospital had been her first job and was referred to the NMC in 2019 after a series of errors between October 2018 and April of that year. This included a failure to administer insulin to a patient.

In November 2018, it was found Mrs Knight incorrectly gave a patient an anticoagulant instead of a diabetes medication. The panel heard witness testimony from a colleague of Mrs Knight who said they were “alarmed” to discover the patient had received the drug.

The evidence said: “In my view, if the drug prescription was unclear to the nurse, the dosage clearly indicated that the dabigatran tablet was not the correct medicine to administer as it was discrepant with the dose of the correct medicine. The evidence given by the ward sister to the panel was described as “serious error” as the patient had a bleeding concern.

No harm came to the man despite Mrs Knight’s mistake, who had attempted to disagree with the allegation, claiming nobody saw her give out the tablet.

In March 2019, the nurse was said to have removed another patient’s intravenous pump, despite not being permitted to do so. A witness statement from the ward manager said they had been alerted by a student nurse how a patient receiving a 30 minute course of medicine no longer had the pump connected.

Mrs Knight told her colleague she had disconnected the device but the ward sister told the panel how this was without relevant training in doing so safely. The nurse disagreed with the statement, claiming her manager said she could “take intravenous fluids down this happened on two occasions once it was disconnected and I removed it.”

Further charges against Mrs Knight found proven included leaving a patient’s medicine locker unsecured and completing unsupervised medication rounds. She was subsequently dismissed by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust in July 2019 and issued with a NMC interim conditions of practice order in September of that year.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. Image: Google Street ViewSouthport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. Image: Google Street View
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. Image: Google Street View

Breach of terms: The panel found how when Mrs Knight moved onto work for Athena Healthcare at Hesketh Park Lodge in 2020, she breached these terms by administering unsupervised medicine rounds and deliberately misled colleagues at the home by not admitting to being under working conditions imposed by the NMC.

Mrs Knight denied the accusation, claiming she had been “open and honest” and did not administer medicines in line with her conditions. This was rejected by the NMC who said they felt on the balance of probabilities the nurse had knowingly been dishonest

In mitigation, Mrs Knight said the interim restrictions against her had been lifted, she had undertaken training and had been promoted to the position of senior nurse. She admitted while her practice may have been impaired in 2018 and 2019, it is not impaired now.

The nurse said she had “upheld the standards of professional conduct” in all of her duties and referred to several testimonials that claimed she was “very open and honest and had excellent communication with colleagues.” Despite this, the NMC found Mrs Knight had failed to acknowledge her shortcomings and had been “wilfully” dishonest.

As a result, they imposed a suspension order of three months, noting there was no evidence she had acted for personal gain. An interim order of 18 months was also imposed pending an appeal by Mrs Knight.