Helpline nurse hung up on callers

A registered nurse who hung up on callers to a national helpline has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

Senia Kelemete, 43, of Auckland was found guilty of the charge by the Health Practitioner's Disciplinary Tribunal today in Wellington.

The decision related to her conduct over an eight-month period two years ago.

It was found that between May 2011 and January 6, 2012, Kelemete - who worked from home - terminated nearly 50 calls without reason. She was dismissed in February last year after six years with the company.

Some of the calls she took were as short as three seconds. Others were terminated while people were describing their symptoms. It was also found that Kelemete hung up on some callers after greeting them.

On one occasion, she terminated a call from a woman concerned about a 17-year-old friend who had been diagnosed with septicaemia and had missed two days worth of penicillin injections.

The caller said her friend had chest pain over her heart.

After greeting the patient, all nurses working on the helpline are taught to rule out symptoms that indicate whether they are in immediate danger.

It was found Kelemete terminated the call before doing so.

Evidence from her computer and call logs showed she had not attempted to call back any of the people she had hung up on, despite having access to most of their numbers.

Tribunal chairman David Carden said Kelemete's behaviour had amounted to malpractice.

Mr Carden said there had also been an element of negligence in her work, which could bring discredit to the nursing profession.

The tribunal adjourned to consider appropriate disciplinary action against Kelemete, who was not present at today's proceedings.


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