Nurse who held pillow over 98-year-old’s face is let off with a caution

A NURSE who held a pillow over a 98-year-old woman’s face for up to a minute has been let off with a caution.

Ramota Ojukotola ‘lost patience’ with the frail patient after she tried to spit at her while she cleaned her in bed, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard this week.

Ojukotola held the pillow over the woman’s face causing her body to shake at The Laurels Nursing Home, Old London Road, which cares for elderly residents with medical conditions including stroke, diabetes, dementia and palliative needs.

Ojukotola, a nurse for 47 years, claimed two junior colleagues, Lindy Marshall Stone and Lucretia Rostas, made up the allegations because of a grudge, after an earlier argument.

Giving evidence, Ms Stone told how the patient, known only as Resident A, became agitated when Ojukotola lifted her night dress and wrapped it around her arms to stop her hitting out during the night shift in October 2009.

When the pensioner tried to spit at the nurse, Ms Rostas told the hearing that Ojukotola grabbed a pillow and pressed it against her face, with her hand squashing into the pillow.

Ms Rostas said Resident A’s body started to shake.

It was only when Ms Rostas remarked ‘Oh my god’ that Ojukotola released the pressure on the pillow, the panel heard.

But Ms Stone said there was doubt in her mind as to whether Ojukotola simply used the pillow as a barrier against the spitting.

There were no signs of bruising or trauma when Resident A was examined the following day, the hearing was told.

Later on the same shift, at about 2.50am, Ojukotola later tried to stop Ms Stone from leaving the home by holding onto her arm and putting her foot in the door, the tribunal heard.

The panel heard that the nurse later apologised for her actions and had merely been concerned about Ms Stone walking home late at night.

Ms Stone conceded Ojukotola’s actions were ‘non-threatening’ and the panel ruled she was not guilty of misconduct in respect of this charge.

But the panel said the nurse’s treatment towards Resident A did amount to misconduct and ruled her fitness to practise was impaired.

Panel chair John Matharu, said: “Although this was an isolated incident, your actions compromised patient care.Your conduct has brought the nursing profession into disrepute and is in breach of the fundamental principles of practice.”

But the panel ruled that a caution order would be the appropriate sanction in the circumstances.

Mr Matharu added: “While the nature of the incident could warrant a greater level of sanction, in the panel’s view this would be disproportionate.

“Ms Stone stated there was no evidence of any adverse impact on Resident A, no change in breathing or struggling for breath, for instance.

“The two assistants did not make any checks of Resident A’s vital signs. If the incident had been serious, one or both of them would have taken steps to intervene.

“The panel has therefore decided a two year caution order is proportionate to sufficiently serve as a formal reminder of the standards of conduct and behaviour expected of you.”

Christine Boniface, registered manager of The Laurels Nursing Home, said Ojukotola has not worked there since the night of the incident in October, 2009.

She added: “The incident was reported through whistle-blowing procedures and the relevant authorities were correctly informed.”