Comment On NMC Findings Regarding Nurse

Five year caution for nurse over misconduct


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) decided today in Cardiff that a nurse should receive a five year caution.

Doreen Roberts, a nurse at Builth Wells Hospital, was found guilty earlier this year of professional misconduct for the way in which she dealt with a toddler from Newtown, Powys, who had sustained a head injury on 19 June 2006.

The toddler in question was struck on the head by a vacuum cleaner which had fallen down the stairs from the landing above. She had screamed, became quiet, developed a lump on her forehead, began to dribble from the side of her mouth and suffered a seizure.

Her mother put her and her sisters into the family car and drove to Builth Wells Hospital. When they arrived there the toddler vomited and opened her bowels. The mother sent the toddler into the Hospital with an older sibling while she parked the car. On her return it was apparent that no staff had offered help and the toddler appeared to be unconscious. Another sister sought a nurse but reported that they were busy. Meanwhile a member of the kitchen staff arrived and helped to clear up.

The family looked again for a nurse and, eventually, Doreen Roberts arrived and was informed by the mother that the two-year old toddler had sustained a head injury and suffered a seizure and needed immediate treatment.

The mother asked for a doctor and Mrs Roberts told her that there were none on site and that she would need to go to Llandrindod Wells Hospital.

It took the mother 20 minutes to make the nine mile trip by car to the Hospital, where a nurse and local GP were waiting, having been contacted by Mrs Roberts.  The GP gave the toddler oxygen while the nurse called 999 for an ambulance to take the unconscious toddler to Hereford Accident & Emergency. The toddler regained consciousness and was kept in overnight.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council found at the earlier hearing that Doreen Roberts:

  • Failed to take an adequate history of the incident
  • Failed to adequately examine the toddler
  • Did not complete documentation relating to the visit
  • Did not take the toddler to the Minor Injuries Unit for assessment
  • Allowed the toddler’s mother to drive to Llandrindod Wells Hospital rather then call for an ambulance to transport them to a suitable hospital with available doctors

Jennifer Emerson, a medical law solicitor with the Birmingham office of law firm, Irwin Mitchell, acting for the toddler and her family said: "The family is understandably very distressed by the events of that night in June 2006 and thereafter. Having a child suffer an injury is distressing enough without arriving at hospital to find there are no doctors available and then experiencing delays in what should be emergency treatment."

"The mother has informed me that, since the incident, her daughter has never regained her normal self, changing from a very happy child to one who is extremely aggressive, suffers from panic attacks, memory loss and cognitive difficulties. She suffered two seizures in July 2006 and continues to have ‘small absences’. She now has to attend a special needs school.

"Family members are disappointed with the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s ruling. They remain concerned that other parents and children should not have a similar experience."