A psychiatric nurse has been suspended after developing a personal and intimate relationship with a “high risk” patient and then lying to authorities about it.
Jaclyn Stratton was working in the Victoria region of Australia when she began a six-month relationship with a patient she cared for.
The relationship included regular face-to-face contact, social activity, highly personal text messages using false names and sex, the Victoria Civil and Administrative Court was told.
Ms Stratton told her manager that her relationship with the patient was at risk, sparking an investigation.
But when interviewed, she lied about the nature of the relationship, its length, and the level of interactions she had with the patient.
She said it was a friendship that ended, but it was “clear that the patient was far from accepting that the relationship had to end,” the court said.
In her final statement to the nursing council, she said when she tried to end the relationship, the patient threatened suicide.
Ms Stratton’s employer accepted her misrepresentation and apology and gave her a warning and an information sheet to fill out.
But she included the patient in the writing, which the court saw as an “aggravating” factor.
Her employer only learned of the true nature of the relationship when the patient reported it.
“In short, she lied about the nature, extent and duration of the relationship and prevented (her employer) from taking urgently needed action to protect the well-being and best interests of a high-risk patient,” the civil said – and Administrative Court of Victoria delivered its verdict on Thursday.
Ms. Stratton was aware of the vulnerability of the patient who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, chronic suicidal ideation and self-injurious behavior.
After the board was informed of the behavior, the nurse described feeling “trapped and scared”.
She described her fear that the patient would harm herself as the reason she continued the relationship, and after she ended it, she said she continued the phone contact because “she was afraid of what might happen.” .
But the tribunal said the fact that she had these concerns made it even more important that she disclose the true situation to her employer.
“Complete honesty was imperative and urgent. She should have realized that,” the court said.
“By not telling the truth, Ms. Stratton put self-protection first and the patient’s needs last.”
The court rejected her explanation that her behavior was because she believed she was being too empathetic and this made her unfit for psychiatric nursing.
But it did accept that she “deeply regrets” what happened.
In her statement, she described her behavior as “horrific, absolutely cruel behavior that she thinks about every day and cannot forgive herself.”
The nurse, who now works as a midwife, was found to have engaged in professional misconduct by crossing professional boundaries and providing false and misleading information.
She has been suspended for three months and has had training and surveillance requirements added to her registry, to be reviewed in 12 months.
“The violations apparent here are serious matters for any nurse or health professional caring for patients, particularly where the patient may be at risk,” said VCAT member Elisabeth Wentworth and health practitioners Mary Archibald and Pamela Barry in their decision.
“In mental health or psychiatric care, such injuries have the potential to cause greater harm.
“This damage was recognized in this case.”
https://nypost.com/2022/07/01/nurse-jaclyn-stratton-suspended-after-relationship-with-psych-patient/ Nurse Jaclyn Stratton suspended after dating psychiatric patient