Nurse who throttled brain-damaged amputee at Northampton hospital struck off


A nurse who attempted to throttle a brain-damaged amputee at a Northampton hospital has been struck off.

Yvonne Brathwaite-John, who has been a nurse for 35 years, angered the female patient when she told her she could not go out because of her behaviour the previous day at the National Brain Injury Centre, at St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.

The slightly built patient, who was just 5ft 5in, 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.

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

Brathwaite-John acted in a ‘deliberate act of retaliation’ in an ‘inappropriate emotional response’ said panel chair Leslie Cuthbert.

He said: “The panel considered that, by putting your hand around Resident A’s throat and squeezing, particularly whilst her head and limbs were restrained, as well as not removing your hand from Resident A’s throat when told to stop you clearly put Resident A at unwarranted risk of harm.

“The panel also considered that by you actions, you failed to make the care of Resident A your first concern and failed to respect her dignity.

“At the time you had you hand around Resident A’s throat and squeezed, Resident A had been contained and was safe,” he added.

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, Brathwaite-John’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 hair 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.

“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,” said Renata Jurenko, for the NMC.

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.

“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,” continued Ms Jurenko.

“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.

Mr Cuthbert, said: “There is no doubt that she attacked you on that day, but you were trained to deal with such situations.

“Once your hair had been released, you should have walked away.

“At that stage, Resident A was fully restrained and the situation was contained. She was no longer in a position to do you any harm.

“However, you did not walk away but instead retaliated by putting a hand around Resident A’s throat and squeezing.”

Brathwaite-John had to be pulled from the disabled woman by a colleague.

“Given the nature of the behavioural and violent misconduct found, the panel has concluded that confidence in the profession and the NMC as its regulator would be undermined if you were to remain on the register,” he added.

Mr Cuthbert ordered Brathwaite-John’s name be struck from the nursing register.

She will not be able to apply for restitution for five years.

An internal investigation after the incident had resulted in Brathwaite-John’s dismissal from the hospital.