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Nurse who taped agitated patient’s mouth shut gets a caution from the NMC

Regulator rules nurse still fit to practise, but caution stays on her record for four years

Regulator rules nurse still fit to practise, but caution stays on her record for four years


Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where the incident took place. Picture: Alamy

An agency nurse who put tape on a vulnerable patient's mouth, telling him 'that will keep you quiet', has been reprimanded by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Beaullah Ntsulumbana told the 'agitated and confused' older man 'I will shoot you' during her agency night shift at Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation NHS Trust in March 2018.

She was given a four-year caution order at an NMC fitness to practise hearing, which concluded on 31 May.

Man was distressed

The hearing panel heard how the patient had a urinary tract infection and was moved from a bay to a corridor opposite the nurse’s station when he became 'very noisy', shouting and asking for help.

A healthcare assistant also on shift that night told the panel: 'He was very noisy all night and in the early hours of the morning the agency nurse taped Patient A's mouth shut "to keep him quiet" and left the tape in place for about five minutes.

'She later told Patient A three or four times she would shoot him. Patient A was distressed by this and said he was very frightened, hiding under his bed sheet, shaking and screaming if he saw anyone move or come towards him,' the panel heard.

Nurse claimed she wanted to calm the patient

Ms Ntsulumbana told the panel she placed a strip of micropore tape on her own mouth and made a ‘shhh’ gesture before giving the patient tape, which she said he put on his own mouth.

She claimed it was her intention to calm the patient in a stressful situation.

But the panel said it was unlikely the man, who had continually refused medication, food and fluids and was shouting 'go away' when approached – would be in position to place the tape on his own mouth.

Another healthcare assistant told the panel in a statement: ‘I immediately asked the registrant if she put the tape over patient A’s mouth and she confirmed she did'.

Laura Bayley, representing Ms Ntsulumbana, said her client had displayed genuine remorse and regret for her actions.


Picture: Barney Newman

'No safety risk'

But the panel said: 'You failed to act towards him in a caring and compassionate way. You failed to treat Patient A with respect and had no regard for his personal dignity.'

The panel determined that as Ms Ntsulumbana had completed training in safeguarding and de-escalation techniques, and no other concerns had been reported about her practice, she did not pose a risk to patient safety.

The four-year caution order is recorded on the NMC register, and is disclosed to anyone enquiring about the nurse's fitness to practise history.


Further information

Read the ruling in full 


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