A nurse who risked a patient committing suicide by leaving him alone with a guitar is facing punishment from her governing body.
Christine O’Meara’s blunder could have allowed the man to hang himself with a string from the instrument.
The patient was on suicide watch at the Guild Lodge Care Home in Preston, after previously trying to kill himself by strangulation and driving into a brick wall.
A Nursing and Midwifery Council disciplinary panel found O’Meara’s fitness to practice impaired, and will now adjourn to decide what sanction to impose.
NMC panel chairman Stephen Redmond said: “Ms O’Meara failed to appreciate the role of a mental health nurse in a secure environment.
“The panel heard evidence that Ms O’Meara is a caring person who wanted to care for patients but failed to follow procedures and protocols which would protect them.
“The panel concluded that Ms O’Meara acted in a manner which put her patients at risk of potential harm.
“There was no evidence to suggest Ms O’Meara had full insight into and in fact remedied her failings.”
Manager Alison Makinson saw O’Meara hand over the guitar to the patient on May 7, 2010.
She said: “I saw her unlock the door to the office, go in, come back out with the guitar and give it to him.
“He went off to his room with the guitar and I went and asked Christine why she had done it.
“He was not allowed to have the guitar unsupervised.
“He had a history of self-harm and the risk assessment was to address the serious risk of him using the guitar strings as a ligature.
“He was a suicide risk, this guy.
“He had been in our care for some time and there had been some serious attempts at self-harm, and, prior to his admission, there had been suicide attempts.
“There was nothing specifically related to a guitar, but there had been other serious ligature attempts, and other serious incidents, he’d once driven a car into a brick wall.
“He would have been alone with the guitar for 15 minutes if I hadn’t been watching at the time.”
She said the risk assessment policy was widely discussed by staff at the home and said she would be “surprised” if O’Meara had never heard it.
O’Meara was also found to have visited a patient after they were discharged to deliver drugs without properly reporting it.
She was cleared of a further charge of failing to give another patient a relaxation CD and anxiety management advice.
The panel adjourned until March when they will decide what sanction to take against the nurse.
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