East Yorkshire care home nurse gave end-of-life drugs without approval, panel hears

Melody Kitney-Putnam is accused of giving patients controlled drugs without permission from senior colleagues. Credit: PA

A misconduct panel has heard how a care home nurse in East Yorkshire forged colleagues' signatures after giving end-of-life drugs to residents without their approval.

Melody Kitney-Putnam is charged with multiple counts of misconduct while working at Lindum House nursing home in Beverley five years ago.

She is alleged to have administered the strong painkiller, diamorphine, which is often used in palliative care, and muscle-relaxant drug midazolam to multiple patients over the course of two night shifts in October 2017.

The two drugs are "controlled" meaning they have to be signed off by a second, senior nurse.

The charges relate to four residents, named as Patients A, C, E and F in the hearing, who were all given both drugs during night shifts between 19 and 24 October. A fifth patient, named B, was also allegedly given diamorphine when there was no need for it.

Melody Kitney-Putnam is charged with multiple counts of misconduct while working at Lindum House nursing home. Credit: Barchester Healthcare

The nurse is also accused of giving both diamorphine and midazolam to patients A and C without any clinical justification.

The misconduct panel heard on Wednesday how the nurse then forged a senior care assistant's signature.

Ms Kitney-Putnam was investigated and dismissed from the care home after the allegations came to light, and now faces the hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). If the charges are found proved, she could be struck off.

Senior care assistant Alison Mortimer, who was working both night shifts in October, told the panel she'd had no idea the drugs were being given out, and later saw her own signature on the charts.

She told the hearing she had no recollection of signing these herself and had been downstairs on both nights."There's got to be two people signing medication off - a nurse and a senior," Ms Mortimer told the hearing.

The charges relate to four residents Credit: PA Images

Mary Stewart, questioning the witness, asked whether she had witnessed Ms Kitney-Putnam give out any controlled drugs on either of the night shifts, to which she replied, "no".

Ms Mortimer also told the panel she'd since had to change her signature since the allegations, as she was worried it was too easy to forge. When asked if there had been anyone else on shift who could act as second checker, the senior care assistant replied, "not really".

"If [Melody's] giving medication I should be witnessing it," said Ms Mortimer. "But I didn't witness any medication being given."

She added: "[Melody] would have to come down to get me to witness taking the drugs out and for me to sign, but I never went upstairs."

Ms Stewart said to the witness: "It's clear from your evidence that your initials appear on the [medication charts] and your signature appears on occasions you say you did not sign it - who signed your name?"

Ms Mortimer replied: "Well it wasn't me, I didn't witness any drugs being given out." Ms Stewart asked the witness who she thought had signed her name instead, to which she replied: "Melody - it must have been Melody."

Diamorphine is a strong opioid painkiller used in end of life and post-surgical care for chronic pain, and is often used to treat cancer patients' pain. Midazolam is usually given to make people drowsy, relax muscles or as an anaesthetic before medical procedure.

The hearing is due to continue into next week with five further witnesses due to give evidence.Ms Kitney-Putnam, who did not attend Wednesday's hearing, is due to be present on Friday.