An opioid-addicted nurse, who stole prescriptions from her patients in an aged care home, has been reprimanded for professional misconduct.
An opioid-addicted nurse, who stole prescriptions from her patients in an aged care home, has been reprimanded for professional misconduct.

Nurse steals patients’ scripts to fuel opioid addiction

An opioid-addicted nurse, who stole prescriptions from her patients in an aged care home, has been reprimanded for professional misconduct.

Leesa Chae Thackray, 37, stole six prescriptions from various patients at the home over two months in 2017, to get endone, fentanyl patches and Panadeine forte.

She pleaded guilty in Richlands Magistrates Court in 2017 to stealing and six counts of fraud.

She took two other prescriptions and presented them at two different pharmacies to try to get opioids for herself, but was not criminally charged over it, a disciplinary tribunal heard.

After a workplace investigation into Thackray's conduct, the residential manager of the aged care facility notified the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that at the time of the thefts and fraud, Thackray was suffering from chronic pain caused by various medical conditions.

A psychiatrist's report said Thackray had a lengthy history of opioid dependence, due to abdominal and back pain and a pain disorder.

Thackray's registration was suspended in December, 2017, and she was prohibited from providing any form of health service.

In January, 2018, she surrendered her registration.

A tribunal judicial member said Thackray's conduct involved a serious breach of trust of not only her employer, but also of her vulnerable patients in the facility.

Her conduct was contrary to a number of principles in codes for professional practice and ethics for nurses and midwives, the member said.

"It is a sad case, as her opioid addiction, the genesis of her offending, is directly linked to a number of distressing medical conditions, some of which she has suffered from for some time," the member said.

"She has shown remorse and insight in her dealings with the criminal justice system and her cooperation with the regulator, and in the facilitation of these disciplinary proceedings."

Although Thackray said she did not intend to practise as a nurse again, if she applied for registration, the Board would focus on her impairment, the member said.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board would require evidence that Thackray had appropriately overcome her opioid dependence before considering registration

Originally published as Nurse steals patients' scripts to fuel opioid addiction


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