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Nurse Disconnects Patient's Heart Monitor Alarm and FaceTimes Family, Patient Dies

She allegedly missed vital signs.

A nurse at an Australian hospital has been disciplined after she turned off an elderly patient's vital signs monitor while she FaceTimed with family members, reported. Geraldine Lumbo Dizon was found guilty of professional misconduct by a government agency, which canceled her nursing credentials for at least a year. Australia's Health Care Complaints Commission presented evidence that Dizon committed a number of errors in treating the man and broke various safety protocols. Read on to find out what they were.   

Nurse Allegedly Missed Vital Signs

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In a hearing before the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the panel was told that Dizon was assigned to an 85-year-old patient who was admitted to Nepean Private Hospital on July 16, 2021, with heart and kidney failure.

According to the commission, Dizon only recorded the man's vital signs once during a 10-hour shift on July 29, despite being required to do so every six hours, and didn't tell doctors the man had an irregular heart rhythm an hour before he was found dead.

Vital Monitor Disconnected, Committee Says


The Health Care Complaints Commission also presented evidence that she disconnected the alarm speakers connected to the monitor for five patients, including the elderly man. At one hearing, Dizon said she turned the speaker off to stop another "confused" patient from thinking it was his doorbell and getting out of bed. But she didn't reconnect the alarm when her shift was over, reported.

The commission also gave evidence that Dizon was on her phone for "more than 66 minutes on FaceTime and other items" during the Jul. 29 night shift, against hospital policy. Security video footage showed the woman on her phone at her desk about 15 minutes before her patient's heartbeat began to slow.

Monitor Was Left Off


"At 7:07 a.m. on 30 July 2021, the heart monitor showed Patient A was bradycardic (slow heartbeat)," the tribunal's decision said. Seven minutes later, the man's heart rate silently flatlined while nurses were unaware.

Other staff found the man cold and unresponsive at 7:20 a.m. Dizon said she wasn't using her phone continuously and that she used her phone at work to check on family in the Philippines.

Overwork, Fatigue An Issue, Panel Says


The commission presented other complaints about the nurse's performance, including that she didn't tell co-workers about an irregular electrocardiogram test and said she was "not good at ECG reading," reported.

The commission also said Dizon, who had been registered as a nurse in Australia since 2006, had broken safety protocol by working at least 70 hours a week between January and July 2021 and was likely fatigued. Dizon denied being overly tired.

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License Suspended


Ultimately, the tribunal canceled Dizon's nursing license for at least 12 months and found her guilty of professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct during the shift in question. But according to the tribunal, Dizon didn't attend any hearing with the Health Care Complaints Commission because she said she had already resigned from nursing.

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