An 85-year-old patient passed away after a nurse turned off his heart monitor during a FaceTime call with her family. The incident took place on the night of 29 July at the Nepean Private Hospital in Kingswood, Sydney, where Geraldine Lumbo Dizon, a nurse, was on duty.
The nurse silenced the patient’s alarm while chatting with her family back in the Philippines during a FaceTime call that lasted for 66 minutes. Unfortunately, she also failed to inform the doctors about the patient’s irregular heart rhythm an hour before he died.
The New South Wales Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal found that Dizon was responsible for the patient’s death and revoked her registration. The elderly man had been admitted to the hospital on 16 July 2021 with renal and heart failure, and Dizon was responsible for monitoring his observations at six-hourly intervals.
However, CCTV footage revealed that she only checked on him once during her 10-hour shift. Dizon’s registration was suspended for at least 12 months, and she was also found guilty of professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct.
The tribunal also discovered that the patient’s heartbeat began to slow down 15 minutes before Dizon switched off the heart monitor. It only took seven minutes from when the mute alert was detected to the elderly man suffering cardiac failure. His body was found unresponsive in his bed 10 minutes later.
Dizon claimed during one of her tribunal hearings that she turned off the speaker to avoid confusing another patient from thinking it was his doorbell and getting out of his bed. However, she allegedly forgot to reconnect the alarm at the end of her shift.
The tribunal also received evidence that Dizon was on her phone for more than 66 minutes during her night shift, which went against hospital policy. She did not inform her colleagues about an irregular electrocardiogram (ECG) test because she wasn’t good at ECG reading.
The nurse breached Australian nurse safety protocols by working 70 hours a week between January and July 2021. She trained at Central Luzon Doctors Hospital in the Philippines in 1997 and was registered as a nurse in Australia since 2006.
The incident at the Nepean Private Hospital in Kingswood, Sydney, resulting in an elderly patient’s death due to a nurse turning off the heart monitor, is a reminder of the importance of adhering to safety protocols. The nurse’s negligent behavior while on duty led to her registration being revoked, and she was found guilty of professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct. Hospitals should ensure their staff members are trained appropriately, and safety protocols are implemented and followed to prevent such incidents from occurring.