A NURSE who brought the profession into disrepute has been suspended for 12 months after mistaking blood around a patient’s mouth for jam.

A nine-day competence case in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Council at the Old Bailey was heard in the absence of Denise Joyce Reed, who was employed at the Great Western Hospital.

The error was one of 29 charges against Mrs Reed between August 2009 and August 2010, which included her failing to notify the staff nurse during handover that a patient had suffered a heart attack and dispensing incorrect medication for a patient.

The disciplinary panel said Mrs Reed demonstrated numerous and wide-ranging failures of fundamental skills, knowledge and judgment, and her deficiencies brought the profession into disrepute.

They heard evidence from 12 members of the hospital’s nursing staff who had worked with Mrs Reed, a registered nurse.

On January 2, 2010, one of the nurses, who has not been named for legal reasons, said she was undertaking a drug round with Mrs Reed when a patient pointed out that another patient’s mouth was bleeding.

Mrs Reed had gone to administer drugs to this patient and said it was just jam.

The patient was found to have blood around their chin and later had surgery to stitch the gum.

Mrs Reed gave an account of the incident later in which she said the patient did indeed have jam on their face, having had it for breakfast, and that any blood must have come later.

She qualified as a nurse in 2002 and in 2009 was employed by the Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Concerns were raised about her proficiency and regular meetings with a ward manager began on September 2, 2009.

She was transferred to Neptune Ward, under supervised practice, from December 7, 2009 to January 3, 2010, where further concerns were raised. Mrs Reed was suspended on January 5, 2010, and was dismissed in April 2010 following a disciplinary hearing, but reinstated on appeal.

She was then employed in a non-clinical position and returned to a staff nurse position in July 2010 under supervised practice.

Further doubts about her capability were raised and in August 2010 her supervised practice was abandoned and she was subsequently dismissed by the trust.

Hilary Walker, Chief Nurse, said: “Mrs Reed was dismissed from her role as a staff nurse at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January 2011 after we soon noticed that her proficiency as a nurse meant she was not able to provide the standard of care we expect of our nurses.

“Patient safety is our absolute priority and we can confirm that no harm came to any patients as a result of the concerns raised.”

The panel made an interim suspension order for 18 months to allow for any appeal process.

If Mrs Reed does not lodge an appeal within 28 days, the interim order will lapse and will be replaced by the substantive order.