Former Wagga nurse cops two-year ban for stealing morphine

File photo: iStock

File photo: iStock

A former Wagga nurse has been barred from the medical profession for stealing thousands of vials of morphine for personal use.

Sheree Turner cooked the books at Calvary Hospital to cover up the theft of 2007 doses of morphine over three years and four months.

The theft amounted to “unsatisfactory professional conduct” and she cannot work as a nurse or midwife for two years.

She also wrote in the drug register that morphine had been given to two patients, but there was no suggestion in the patient records that the drugs had ever been administered.

In a ruling handed down shortly before Christmas, the Health Care Complaints Commission ruled Ms Turner “undertook considerable subterfuge by falsifying records and depriving patients of their pain relief medication”.

In the opinion of the panel, Ms Turner “took advantage of opportunities to procure drugs when she had access to the drug cupboard whilst on duty”, which “reflects extensive planning by Ms Turner to obtain drugs by deception”.

Ms Turner admitted she had taken the drugs when Calvary Hospital picked up discrepancies in its drug registers back in October 2013.

She was immediately suspended from duties without pay.

Shortly after she admitted to the health department “self-appropriation and self-adminstration of morphine and pethadine”, Calvary Hospital sacked her. 

Around the same time, the state Nursing and Midwifery Council took steps to effectively prevent her from working as a registered nurse.

She was admitted to hospital in Wagga and Albury on two separate occasions during 2013 and 2014 for mental health issues, including acute depressive episodes.

In May 2015, she pleaded in the Wagga Local Court guilty to stealing property as a clerk and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.

The sentence was suspended on the proviso she attend counselling and drug rehabilitation.

Ms Turner, who was not present at the Health Care Complaints Commission hearing, was also addicted to sedatives, muscle relaxants and cannabis.

Psychiatrist Dr Kipling Walker said Ms Turner was not competent to practice nursing because she would have ongoing problems with judgement, trustworthiness and emotional stability.

The psychiatrist did not believe kicking her drug habit would be enough for Ms Turner to return to her career, as her mood and personality problems will persist indefinitely. 

Another mental health worker assigned to Ms Turner said in September that she was presently not going very well and was “struggling with her long road of recovery”.

In addition to being disqualified from being registered as nurse and/or midwife for between 18 months and two year, Ms Turner is prohibited from providing hospital, pharmaceutical and ambulance services.

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