An anaesthetic technician who collapsed in a hospital theatre
while attending to a patient was high on a drug used in
sedation, according to a report from the health watchdog.
Kristin Lawson has been struck off and censured for stealing
and consuming the controlled drug Remifentanil, which she
used three times last year while on duty at MercyAscot
hospitals in Auckland.
Lawson also stole the drug from her employer to consume at
home and admitted to once administering the painkiller to
herself intravenously in the staff toilets.
The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal cancelled
Lawson's registration and censured her to express
"significant disquiet" about the offending which it said put
patients at risk.
Registered anaesthetic technicians played a pivotal role in
the provision of a patient and had to be alert, rested and
able to deliver their service, the tribunal said.
It could not see a way for Lawson to continue in the
profession because an anaesthetic technician must handle and
The offending, which spanned four months from March last
year, was discovered when Lawson looked "sleepy" before she
fell off her stool while in theatre with a patient on June
Because she had collapsed twice before at work, on the same
dates she was later found to have stolen the drug, Lawson was
required to go to an emergency department.
She reluctantly went but not before asking a colleague if he
would sign the controlled drugs register to confirm she had
destroyed two vials of 2mg of Remifentanil because they were
The colleague refused because it was against policy.
Senior staff who inspected the records found Ms Lawson noted
she had destroyed multiple vials of the drug without
following appropriate policy including correct disposal.
An empty box of the drug was found in the controlled drugs
cupboard and the next day Lawson texted her colleague asking
him not to inform the anaesthetic team leader about her
request to make the inappropriate entry on the register, the
Lawson told the tribunal she began abusing drugs after she
was involved in a traumatic car accident in February last
year and suffered flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.
She used the drug to help her "relax, sleep and forget".
But the tribunal said this could not excuse the serious
misconduct of stealing the drug, using it at work and home,
falsifying records to hide the offending, and trying to
The tribunal ordered Lawson to pay $6600, 25 per cent of the
cost of the prosecution and hearing, after she said she had
just bought into a catering franchise and had legal bills
mounting for pending court proceedings over the offending.
Understood to be from Norway, Lawson said her residence
status was now in question but it was unclear if she would
have to leave the country.
Her application for name suppression was declined.
Ms Lawson could not be contacted for comment.
Mercy Ascot Mercy Hospital chief executive Dr Geoff Sparkes
said the hospital took immediate disciplinary action,
suspending Lawson when the offending came to light in a spot
An internal investigation was launched and the Ministry of
Health, police and Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand
"The technician has not worked at the hospital since the
Dr Sparkes said Lawson had worked under the direct
supervision of a consultant anaesthetist and would not have
been in a position to give drugs to a patient independently.
He was confident no patients had been adversely affected by
By Natalie Akoorie of the New Zealand Herald