A Surrey-based veterinary nurse has been suspended from the Register for ten months after order drugs for her own personal use.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee has directed the Registrar to suspend the veterinary nurse.
The disciplinary case against Lois Hodgkinson RVN took place between Monday 6 February 2017 and Wednesday 8 February 2017.
At the time of the alleged offences, Ms Hodgkinson was a full-time registered veterinary nurse at a practice in Woking, Surrey.
The allegations were that between, 1 September 2013 and 1 April 2015, she placed five orders for Prescription only Medication (POM) for her own personal use and/or without an authorised prescription using the practice’s veterinary wholesaler ordering system.
The medication was intended for her own personal use, as she had previously at various times been prescribed Codeine, Naproxen and Amitriptyline after being involved in a serious car accident in November 2012, as a result of which she suffered from chronic back pain and other problems.
Other medicine ordered was intended for her dog, ‘Minnie’, but the dosages ordered were incorrect. The medications were never removed from the practice or given to Minnie, but were instead returned to the wholesaler.
From the outset Ms Hodgkinson admitted the charges against her, although she believed that other staff at the practice had placed similar personal orders and that she had been given permission to do so as well.
Ms Hodgkinson also accepted that the facts amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.
The Committee accepted Ms Hodgkinson’s admission of the charges and, accordingly, found the charges proved.
The question of whether the facts amounted to serious professional misconduct was, however, a matter for the Committee’s judgement, notwithstanding Ms Hodgkinson’s admission.
In reaching its decision, the Committee took into account Ms Hodgkinson’s assertion that she believed she had been given permission to order medication through the practice.
She did admit however that she must have been mistaken in that belief.
The Commitee agreed that there has been serious professional misconduct.
The Committee decided that a period of 10 months’ suspension would be appropriate and proportionate in this case.
Chitra Karve, who chaired the Committee and spoke on its behalf, said: “The length of the period of suspension…is intended to reflect this Committee’s view, assisted as it has been by the experience and knowledge of a practising RVN and a veterinary surgeon, of the seriousness of the respondent’s conduct in its totality and of the need for the message to go out to all veterinary professionals that the ordering of POMs without the authority of a valid prescription is a most serious instance of misconduct.
“In such circumstances the personal mitigations that a practitioner might place before a Disciplinary Committee, whilst not immaterial, is inevitably of limited persuasion. And that is what this Committee has concluded in this particular case, having reflected carefully on the mitigation factors placed before it.
“Having weighed the matters of personal mitigation against the fact that a rudimentary knowledge of the governing legislation was effectively all that was required of the Respondent to ensure that the misconduct complained of did not occur, it is the clear view of the Committee that it would be failing in its public duty were it to do anything less than to impose a period of suspension from practice and the least period of suspension that is appropriate in this case is one of ten months.
“The Committee therefore instructs the Registrar to act accordingly.”