Nurse at Northampton hospital sacked after giving double dose of medication to vulnerable patient

St Andrew's Hospital
St Andrew's Hospital

A mental health nurse gave twice the amount of a sleeping pill to a Northampton patient.

Gloria Spraggett was working at Meadow Ward of St Andrew's Hospital in September 2017 when she performed a night medicine round that included 'Patient B'.

Despite a doctor reducing her sleeping pill dose from 7.5mg to 3.75mg the day before, Mrs Spraggett gave her the previous amount. She did the same thing the following night, both times falsely recording in the patient's electronic medical notes that the proper amount had been administered.

After an investigation, she was sacked and referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for a tribunal hearing.

The NMC panel has now decided to impose temporary conditions on Spraggett for the protection of patients.

Chair of the panel John Hamilton said: "Although there is no evidence of actual harm coming to Patient B, there could have been side effects that arose from this administration of medication that may have been attributed to something else.

"She should have consulted with, or asked for advice from, other clinical colleagues, and not simply made the decision to carry on with Patient B’s previous dosage of medication.

"She could also have attempted to obtain the correct dose from another ward at the hospital or central stock."

After considering what she had done, Mrs Spraggett emailed Patient B's doctor four days after the second incorrect dose, to inform him.

An investigation followed during which Spraggett said only a whole, 7.5mg Zopiclone tablet was available which she was not able to cut in half. She told managers she had decided not to disrupt Patient B's medication so gave the previous dose.

Spraggett said: "I found that the reduced dose was not in stock but the normal Zopiclone 7.50mg was. The pill did not have a line in the middle to allow cutting.

"I then checked the previous night administration and it recorded Zopiclone 7.50mg having been administered.

"Faced with these circumstances, I made a clinical decision to not disrupt the treatment. Hence my decision was to give 7.50mg of Zopiclone until the right dose was delivered."

It was also found proved that, a month later, Mrs Spraggett had claimed to have given a teenage patient - called Patient C - a calcium tablet during a morning round, but it was proved that she had not as the patient had been asleep at the time.

Again, the panel found there had been a risk of harm, describing the two sets of charges as a serious breach of the nursing code.

The NMC placed conditions on Spraggett's practice for 12 months, including not being in charge of shifts, and having to be supervised while administering medication until she is deemed competent.