A hospital worker who climbed on top of a sedated patient for his own sexual gratification was thrown out of the profession.
Russell Newton was caught straddling the unconscious women by a shocked nurse at the Little Aston Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.
Asked what he was doing the ‘flustered red faced’ operating department practitioner claimed he was trying to save her life, the Health Professions Council heard.
And as he turned away to face the nurse, he pulled a blanket over the patient’s exposed genitals.
Newton claimed she had suffered a cardiac arrest and he was performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
But when 26-year-old patient’s heart monitor was checked, the history had vanished.
Newton was sacked after an internal investigation three months later, in December 2007.
A year later he was stood trial for indecent assault but was acquitted by a jury.
His victim, referred to as patient A, later had to seek counselling.
Jacki Pearce, chair of the HPC hearing, said Newton’s conduct was sexually motivated. ‘There was no other explanation on the balance of probabilities for the carrying out of the acts.’
‘Patient A was a vulnerable patient and still unconscious at the time.
‘In her victim impact statement before Stafford Crown Court she details the adverse effect which the incident has had on her life.
‘The panel therefore finds a suspension order to be inappropriate in the circumstances and that a striking off order is the only appropriate and proportionate order in the circumstances to reflect the serious nature of the proven allegations.’
The HPC heard that Newton was assigned the care of Patient A on September 6 2007 after surgery on her nose.
At 5.30pm she was taken from theatre to recovery where she was linked up to a heart monitor, and readings were taken of her pulse and breathing.
Shortly afterwards nurse Ellen McMahon noticed Newton had partially drawn the curtain around Patient A.
Through the gap in the curtains he could see Newton lying face down on top of the patient.
Julie Norris, for the HPC, said: ‘Their feet were pointing in the same direction. Their hips were aligned.
‘The two were lying prone on the bed.’
Ms Norris said the nurse ‘stopped dead in her tracks’.
The ‘flustered, red faced and embarrassed’ ODP then jumped down from the hospital trolley.
While Miss McMahon ‘saw him pull an orange blanket over the patient’s genital area’.
Newton claimed the patient had suffered a cardiac arrest and he was trying to give her CPR.
But asked why he had not called for assistance, made no reply.
Miss McMahon then went to get help and on her return found Newton had drawn the curtains.
Newton was again asked what had happened and again claimed Patient A had ‘flat-lined’.
But when Dr Julian Hull checked her heart monitor he was not able to see previous data.
‘It’s the council’s case that Mr Newton was lying on top of the patient for no professional or clinical reason,’ said Julie Norris for the HPC.
‘The reason was for his own sexual gratification – a sexual assault either having taken place or about to take place.’
She added: ‘In this particular case the patient was not even conscious. It really strikes at the heart of the patient-therapist, patient-professional relationship. It’s something that the council take particularly seriously.’
Ms Norris said Newton’s records were ‘at best inaccurate and at worst forged’.
The HPC heard that at a Crown Court hearing in 2008 Newton denied deliberately moving the patient’s knickers.
But he admitted failing to call for help in an emergency and accepted there was no medical reason for being on top of the patient.
Asked to explain himself, he said: ‘I knew I had been doing what I shouldn’t have been doing,’ Stafford Crown Court heard.
Newton, from Birmingham, admitted caring for Patient A while recovering from surgery, incorrectly diagnosing cardiac arrest, failing to call for assistance and then abandoning the procedure when her heart rate reappeared on the CPR screen.
He denied unnecessarily starting CPR and pulling the curtains around the patient’s trolley, failing to feel for a carotid pulse, failing to position himself correctly, placing himself at risk from falling from the trolley and poor record keeping.
He further denied both straddling the patient and stretching his body flat against hers – both actions which were sexually motivated.
All the charges were found proved accept unnecessarily pulling the curtain’s around the patient’s trolley.
Newton was further found guilty of misconduct and impaired fitness to practise. But was cleared of lack of competence.
Memo: The evidence relating to the heart monitor remains an allegation, and is thus alleged, because it does not form part of the HPC case and the panel has not made a ruling on it.