Nurse who failed to recognise patient's signs of cardiac arrest sanctioned

Julie Ann Walker walked away from a patient who she found 'grey' and 'unresponsive'.

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A nurse who said she had “a lot of experience” failed to recognise a patient’s signs of cardiac arrest and has been sanctioned by a watchdog.

Julie Ann Walker walked away from a patient who she found “grey” and “unresponsive” on a ward at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary in September 2017.

Instead of helping the patient, she left the room and approached colleagues outside “with a lack of urgency”, saying they “were a funny colour”.

In oral evidence given at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing, one nurse said that in a case of cardiac arrest “every second counts”.

A person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest reduces by 10% for every minute without CPR or use of a defibrillator.

The panel heard that Walker failed to pull the emergency buzzer and another nurse had to intervene.

The nurse giving evidence at the hearing said: “From what I can remember, I was standing beside the nurses’ station with [another nurse] and Julie came out of the blue room. 

“She came over to us and said something like ‘can you come and see this man, he doesn’t look very well’…

“The patient’s wife…was in-between the patient and the emergency buzzer… I moved past her urgently, shouted and pulled the buzzer.”

The NMC did not believe Walker’s assertion that she could not reach the buzzer because her path was blocked by chairs and equipment.

In their final decisions the panel said her response to a “clearly deteriorating patient” fell significantly short of expected standards.

The report does not disclose if the patient was harmed as a result of the delay.

In the 15 charges brought against the nurse in total, Walker was also found to have failed to carry out adequate post-operative observations on another patient, and lied about not having received a handover from a colleague in October 2017.

On another occasion, she was found to have given a seriously ill patient the wrong medication and then failed to record it and to have been unable to carry out correctly medical procedures expected of her without help.

One former colleague told the inquiry she did not like working with the nurse “because there was always a sense of unease” and claimed she would “question things I would expect a nurse should know.”

The charges against Walker arose while she was employed by the board as a bank nurse and working in wards 61 and 63 between September 29, 2017 and October 4, 2017.

Walker was given a condition of practice order lasting 18 months, which means she will be required to satisfy regulators that she can work safely before she can work without supervision and anyone who enquires about her registration will be informed.

The panel said a suspension or striking-off order would be disproportionate given that she had fully engaged with this regulatory process and had already completed additional training in areas related to her misconduct.

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