Nurse taped brain-damaged patient's mouth 'for a minute'
a NURSE who placed a strip of surgical tape over the mouth of a severely brain-damaged patient allegedly told a colleague that it was "only on for a minute".
Bimbo Paden had worked at St John's Community Hospital in Sligo (inset) since 2001. The Philippines native appeared before the first Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) fitness-to-practise hearing facing allegations of professional misconduct.
The inquiry was told he placed white, see-through surgical tape over the mouth of Patient A, a 49-year-old who was resident in the hospital for more than 10 years after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
"He knew or ought to have known that this was inappropriate," the hearing was told.
It is also alleged that he placed a "hoist sling" under the same patient without the assistance of another staff member in breach of HSE policy.
The man, who weighed more than 15 stone, was a "vulnerable, maximum dependency patient" who requires full care for all his daily needs, including personal hygiene and eating.
"He cannot speak but can make noises. The only way he can communicate verbally is through making sounds. These can be for a long or sustained period of time," said barrister Neasa Bird for the NMBI chief executive officer.
The alleged incident occurred at approximately 11am on June 26 last year when Mr Paden's colleague, nurse Tracey Ryan, returned from her break.
She walked to the part of the unit where Mr Paden was working with the male residents.
The screen was drawn around Patient A's bed, but when she put her head through the curtains she saw Mr Paden standing at the "head of the bed".
"The tape went from one side of the face to the other. It was enough to keep his mouth closed," she said.
"He said something like, 'It's only been on a minute, I'll take it off now'."
She recalled that Mr Paden had the face of "someone who had been caught in the act".
Mr Paden's barrister, Noel Whelan, told the hearing that another resident was in bed directly across from Patient A.
This patient had terminal lung cancer and was suffering from "cognitive deterioration" and alcohol-related memory loss.
He had become "upset and distressed" by the "continuous" noise Patient A was making.
Mr Whelan said that "in a moment of stupidness" Mr Paden (42) went into the patient's room and used tape from his pouch to place on his mouth.
"Until this incident, his care for Patient A was always proper, professional and appropriate," he said.
He added that Mr Paden is a "kind hearted" father of three and the "sole earner" for his family.
Mr Whelan said his client has "accepted" that the placing of the strip of tape across the patient's mouth had occurred, and that it amounted to professional misconduct.
"He was horrified when he realised what he had done. He is ashamed of his actions," said Mr Whelan.
Mr Paden was given the Probation Act for assault earlier this year at Sligo District Court. The hearing continues today.