Nurse guilty of attempted throttling of brain-damaged amputee, tribunal finds

St Andrew's Hospital
St Andrew's Hospital

A nurse’s 35-year-long career is hanging in the balance after she was found guilty by a tribunal of trying to throttle a brain-damaged amputee.

Yvonne Brathwaite-John angered the woman when she told her she could not go out because of her behaviour the previous day at the National Brain Injury Centre, which is part of St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.

The slightly built patient, who was 5ft 5ins tall, started to yank the nurse by her hair down to the floor, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

The woman, identified as Resident A, was prone to outbursts of violence after suffering a brain injury and used a prosthetic leg after losing her limb when she jumped from a window.

fter four colleagues helped control the situation, Brathwaite-John allegedly put her hand around the woman’s neck and refused to let go, the hearing was told.

Renata Jurenko, for the NMC, said: “In this case you [the panel] have found that the registrant did place her hand on Resident A’s throat, that she held it there and under the circumstances, it might be considered that does actually constitute serious misconduct,

“It is accepted that this registrant has had a career spanning in excess of 30 years and this appears to have been an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career but you need to consider that in this particular case there has not been an acceptance of what has happened.”

Brathwaite-John had denied putting her hands around the patient’s throat, applying pressure and refusing to remove them.

But the tribunal found all the allegations against the nurse proved.

David Juckes, Braithwaite-Johns’s representative said: “The registrant’s hair had been pulled forcefully by the patient and the registrant’s hair had been bitten by the patient,

“There is some evidence before the panel that, in fact, part of the registrant’s had been torn out as part of the assault.”

He told the panel that the nurse had been ‘attacked to her face and her neck’.

During the two weeks prior to the incident the resident A had 286 violent episodes, 229 of which were verbal, 33 involved aggression towards objects and 24 involved aggression towards others.

Ms Jurenko said: “The registrant and the patient were having a discussion regarding whether the patient could go out that day and the registrant told her she couldn’t go because of her behaviour the previous day.

“So the resident grabbed the registrant’s hair and a struggle ensued.”

A violent tussle began between the pair and Brathwaite-John sounded her emergency alarm, the panel heard.

Four colleagues attended and the struggle was taken to the floor and pinned the woman down by her arms, head and legs.

Ms Jurenko continued: “Resident A still had hold of the registrant’s hair and appeared to be trying to bite it, she (Brathwaite-John) had her right arm across her body.

“During that struggle on the floor the registrant was seen to place her hand on the patient’s throat and she appeared to squeeze it and it is this action which is the subject of the complaint.”

Despite a nurse shouting at her to let go, Brathwaite-John clung on and had to be removed from the patient, the tribunal heard.

She was taken into the office and the resident was moved into seclusion where she later tried to strangle herself with her underwear.

Red marks were later found on the woman’s neck, but it could not be established if they were as a result of the nurse’s hand or the ligature.

An internal investigation after the incident resulted in Brathwaite-John’s dismissal from St Andrew’s Hospital.

The panel have now retired to consider if Brathwaite-John is guilty of misconduct.

The hearing continues.