Queensland nurse went to work five times over the limit

A Queensland nurse who went to work five times over the legal alcohol limit has been fined $2000 for professional misconduct.
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Joanne Elizabeth Chambers scrubbed up to enter a Queensland hospital theatre room on the morning of March 2, 2015 when the anaesthetist commented Ms Chambers “appeared drunk”, according to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal documents.

The registered nurse left the theatre and was found 20 minutes later by a hospital staff member who said her pupils were dilated and she was being “loud and abusive”.

The nurse pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of liquor and for assault or obstruct a police officer in a public place while adverselyaffected by an intoxicating substance. Photo: Louie Douvis

Police were called to the hospital and were told by Ms Chambers she had drunk alcohol the night before but had finished at 2am, according to court documents.

Ms Chambers was taken to the local police station where it was found she had a blood alcohol reading of 0.256.

She was arrested and on March 19 had a meeting with hospital representatives where she said she was sorry, felt humiliated and explained she was having issues at home, according to court documents.

The following day her employment was terminated and on April 10 she pleaded guilty to two charges – driving under influence and assault or obstruct a police officer in a public place while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

Her legal representative submitted she was diagnosed with postnatal depression after she took maternity leave in 2012, had received medication for anxiety, panic attacks, depression and stress-related alcohol abuse.

She was convicted and fined $1800, disqualified from driving and sentenced without recording conviction to 60 hours of community service. She did not tell the national registration board of the outcome.

According to a QCAT decision handed down last week, Ms Chambers was ordered to pay $2000 for failing to notify the National Board of her convictions.

Acting Deputy President Kerrie O’Callaghan noted Ms Chambers had demonstrated remorse and was taking part in rehabilitation treatment.

“Ms Chambers has been fortunate to have found employment with a supportive organisation where she has been able to rehabilitate whilst given the opportunity to continue to work as a nurse and maintain her skills,” she said.

“It is appropriate in all those circumstances that that situation not be interrupted.”

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