A nurse who stole $720 from a hospital patient then threatened to take legal action against him for smearing her name after he accused her of the theft.
A nurse who stole $720 from a hospital patient then threatened to take legal action against him for smearing her name after he accused her of the theft.

Nurse stole from patient then threatened legal action

A nurse who stole $720 from a hospital patient then threatened to take legal action against him for smearing her name after he accused her of the theft.

Preshenti McCarthy, a former nurse at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane's north, has been disqualified from applying for registration as a health practitioner for 12 months.

McCarthy pleaded guilty to the theft of the patient's money in 2017 and was placed on an $800 good behaviour bond.

McCarthy was on night shift at Prince Charles Hospital on January 3, 2017, when a male patient was admitted to the emergency department, suffering from acute abdominal pain, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The nurse looked through the patient's bag several times to check what medications he had brought with him.

On one of those occasions, McCarthy removed $720 in cash, clipped together with a bulldog clip, from the patient's bag and hid it.

When the patient asked for his bag to check some details McCarthy was asking him about, he discovered the money was missing and accused her of taking it, which she denied.

The tribunal heard McCarthy then left the patient, saying she was going to call security, and hid the cash in a container on a shelf in the pan room.

She then returned to the patient, with two colleagues, to discuss the allegation.

The next morning, McCarthy went to the patient and said "I'm gonna take legal action against you because you have smeared my name in the hospital as a thief".

She also said she had noticed one of the drugs he was taking was Valium and said "That's what they give schizophrenics", although she did not believe he had schizophrenia.

Five days later, and two days after the patient was discharged, a nursing assistant found $720, clipped together, in a container in the pan room.

McCarthy was charged with stealing the money the following day and later was suspended from her job.

She later was assessed as having a substance use disorder and found to be taking medication that was not prescribed, but was considered safe to practise with conditions.

In November, 2017, she resigned. McCarthy has been unregistered since 2019.

The tribunal heard in 2013 McCarthy misappropriated medication at her then workplace and later had conditions on her registration, including regular drug tests.

A tribunal member said McCarthy had breached the trust of her employer and the vulnerable ill patient by stealing the money in 2017.

"She exploited the consequent power differential for her own dishonest purposes," the member said.

"She later threatened the patient and made disparaging comments about his mental health. Her conduct was disgraceful."

The tribunal found her "deplorable conduct" constituted professional misconduct.

"I am deeply sorry for all the trouble that my actions have caused and I have been trying sincerely to make up for my wrong doings," McCarthy said in a submission to the tribunal.

She said she had not worked since May, 2018, and had been doing voluntary work and taking care of a couple of children twice a week for the last 2 years, without pay.

On March 22, McCarthy was disqualified from applying for registration for 12 months.

Originally published as Nurse stole from patient then threatened legal action



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