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Fitness to practise: nurse suspended after accessing records without justification

NMC panel hears nurse admitted breaching patient confidentiality

NMC panel hears nurse admitted breaching patient confidentiality

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian. Picture: Alamy

A nurse who accessed her own and patients medical records without justification has been suspended from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for four months.

In a fitness to practise hearing from 30 September-1 October , nurse Judith Naughton admitted accessing 28 patient records, as well as her own medical records, and breaching patient confidentiality by sharing information with a third party.

IT audit revealed nurse accessed confidential records

Ms Naughton, who joined the

NMC panel hears nurse admitted breaching patient confidentiality

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, NHS Lotihian
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian. Picture: Alamy

A nurse who accessed her own and patients’ medical records without justification has been suspended from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for four months.

In a fitness to practise hearing from 30 September-1 October, nurse Judith Naughton admitted accessing 28 patient records, as well as her own medical records, and breaching patient confidentiality by sharing information with a third party.

IT audit revealed nurse accessed confidential records

Ms Naughton, who joined the register in 2000, accessed the records without clinical justification between 12 June and 3 December 2018 while working for NHS Lothian.

After an IT audit revealed Ms Naughton’s actions, she said she had accessed them out of curiosity, and suggested it was common practice for nurses to do this, the hearing documents show.

The investigation also revealed Ms Naughton knew some of the patients, and records accessed included those of her boyfriend, a neighbour, the mother of a friend, and the friend of a friend.

Ms Naughton also admitted to breaching patient confidentiality to a third party on one occasion by informing her partner that his friend was in hospital.

She was also found to have accessed her own medical records on 12 December 2018.

Following the investigation, Ms Naughton was dismissed from her job at NHS Lothian on 5 April 2019.

Violated patients’ privacy and brought profession into disrepute

In considering the case, the NMC panel found that Ms Naughton had placed patients at unwarranted risk of psychological and emotional harm by violating their right to privacy, and acted in a way that fell short of that expected by a nurse and that brought the profession into disrepute.

The panel stated that although Ms Naughton had expressed remorse over her actions, this was linked to the loss of her job and the damage to her reputation, not on the impact on patients, colleagues and the wider nursing profession.

In mitigation they noted that Ms Naughton has since worked as a nurse, with no issues, had admitted the charges at the earliest opportunity, and had fully engaged with the proceedings.

NMC issues four-month suspension with review at the end of the period

Ms Naughton received a four-month suspension, with a review at the end of that period, to reflect the level of misconduct and allow her time to fully reflect on the impact of her actions.

NHS Lothian was contacted for comment.


Find out more

Nursing and Midwifery Council Fitness to Practise Committee (2020) Substantive Hearing: 30 September-1 October


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