A veterinary nurse has been suspended from the register for 10 months after she admitted placing five orders for prescription only medications for her own personal use and/or without an authorised prescription using the practice’s veterinary wholesaler ordering system.

The RCVS disciplinary committee (DC) heard RVN Lois Hodgkinson, while working at a practice in Woking, Surrey, ordered codeine phosphate, naproxen and amitriptyline tablets.

Chronic back pain

In three of the charges the drugs were intended for her own personal use, as she had previously been prescribed them after being involved in a serious car accident in November 2012 – as a result of which she suffered chronic back pain and other problems. In two further charges, the drugs were said to be intended for her dog Minnie.

From the outset Ms Hodgkinson admitted the charges against her, although she believed other staff at the practice had placed similar personal orders and that she had been given permission to do so as well.

Ms Hodgkinson also accepted the facts amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

Mitigating factors

A number of mitigating factors were put forward in Ms Hodgkinson’s defence, including:

  • the fact a lengthy suspension period or removal from the register would result in her losing an offer of employment
  • the fact, up to the relevant conduct, she had an unblemished career
  • the fact she had made early admissions of guilt and shown insight into her misconduct

Chitra Karve, who chaired the DC, said: “It is the clear view of the committee that it would be failing in its public duty were it to do anything less than to impose a period of suspension from practice, and the least period of suspension that is appropriate in this case is one of 10 months.”

The DC’s full findings and decision are available at www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary

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