Vet nurse suspended over supplying drugs for friend
A veterinary nurse has been suspended for three months after the Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) found she had supplied controlled drugs to a friend.
The hearing for Melanie Jane Herdman RVN took place from Monday 31 July to Thursday 3 August and involved three charges against her.
The first charge against the Northumberland-based nurse related to an intention to supply diazepam and/or tramadol for use by a friend. The second charge related to supplying diazepam and/or tramadol and/or gabapentin. The third charge related to providing advice on the dosages of diazepam and/or tramadol and/or gabapentin.
Miss Herdman, who was not present. admitted the intention to supply diazepam and/or tramadol and that she had provided advice on the dosages. She also admitted that she had supplied diazepam but strongly denied that she had supplied tramadol and/or gabapentin.
The Committee found proven the charges in relation to the intent to supply and the advice on dosages. The Committee also found proven the charge in relation to the supply of diazepam, but found not proved the charge relating to the supply of tramadol and gabapentin for several reasons, including the fact that the messages sent by Miss Herdman did not point unequivocally to her actually supplying each of the drugs to which she referred. It should be noted that there was no suggestion that the diazepam was stolen from her place of work.
Turning to the question of serious professional misconduct, the Committee found that Miss Herdman’s actions had breached paragraphs 1.5 and 6.5 of the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses.
In finding that Miss Herdman’s actions amounted to serious professional misconduct, the Committee noted that, in addition to the obvious risk to the health of her friend, a reasonable and fully informed member of the public would be very concerned to learn that a veterinary nurse had supplied a controlled drug to a friend for their personal use.
Regarding the sanction for Miss Herdman, Paul Morris, chairing the Veterinary Nursing Disciplinary Committee, said: “The Committee considered that a warning or reprimand would not be sufficient to satisfy the public interest as veterinary nurses are trusted by the public to deal with medication responsibly and failure to do constitutes a severe breach of trust.
“The Committee therefore considered a period of suspension sufficient to meet the public interest in maintaining the reputation of the profession and declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct for members of the profession.”
The full findings of the Committee can be found on our dedicated RCVS Disciplinary Committee hearings webpage.