A head nurse working at a nursing home in Sydney’s east has been formally reprimanded after leaving an 89-year-old woman with burns by washing her with bleach.
Helena Bennett, a former Castellorizian Aged Care Services care manager working at the organisation’s care facility in Kensington, was disciplined by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
The HCCC report said how Bennett got the doctor’s instructions wrong and washed the elderly patient in bleach over five days in July 2014.
The elderly patient was treated for a staph infection using bleach. Dermatologist Dr Lance Bear told the HCCC he prescribed a bleach solution ’emphasis[ing] that the correct dilution was half cup of unscented household bleach to half a bath tub of lake warm water.’
However Ms Bennett alleges the instructions she was given were to give the patient a bath of 50/50 bleach and water.
The patient was also unable to communicate how she was feeling as she suffered from a number of other ailments including dementia.
Ms Bennett allegedly told Dr Bear that there was no bath that could be used for the procedure at Castellorizian, and that instead the patient ‘would be sitting in a bath chair wrapped in bleach soaked towels.’
The patient’s chronic skin condition had given her open wounds and scabs across her torso, but when Ms Bennett administered the first treatment on July 11, she bathed the patient using household bleach she had bought herself from Coles.
‘Dry towels were placed in the bucket, wrung out, and wrapped around the patient’s body. Bleach solutions were then poured over the towels ever five minutes for 30 minutes,’ the decision read.
Ms Bennett then gave the patient’s progress notes to weekend staff to continue washing the elderly patient with the bleach.
When Ms Bennett returned to work on Monday after being off the weekend, she saw the burns on the patient’s skin and stopped the bleach treatment immediately.
Ms Bennett was ‘guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct’. But although the HCCC imposed a number of restrictions on her duties, they did not revoke her nursing registration.