It’s alleged that 10 midwives at Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward have been holding nitrous oxide and tamazepam parties at work. Those nurses have all the fun!

Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 09:14:22 +1000
From: Peter Darben (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Umm . . .

—– (from The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 31.12.01)


Midwives ‘partied’ as babies were born



TEN midwiveshave been stood down or shifted from Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward over allegations they have been holding laughing gas drug parties at work.

The Illawarra Area Health Service has launchedan investigation into illegal drug use among midwives, and one doctor, who are alleged to have been inhaling nitrous oxide — known as laughing gas — and swallowing sleeping tablets while on duty.

The Daily Telegraph has been told the drugs were taken during frequent parties at the hospital, held inside empty birthing rooms while babies were being delivered next door.

A junior nurse brought the practice to the attentionof hospital authorities on December 11, claiming that one of the parties was held inside a birthing room on December 9.

While two women were in labour with premature babies, three of the four midwives on duty were partying with nitrous oxide, an anaesthetic gas which promotes feelings of euphoria and can cause hallucinations.

The junior staff member is said to have been horrified by the behaviour, which had the potential to put patients at serious risk — particularly during birth complications.

Authorities investigating the drug parties arebelieved to have been handed a photograph of one of the events, held during July.

It is believed some senior maternity ward staff have been implicated.

Since the investigation began last month, those who are not facing the accusations have been subjected to bullying from the alleged ring leaders, urging them not to co-operate.

A caution was issued to all maternity ward staff against harassment and intimidation – and one staff member who flouted the order was stood down on December 19.

Two days later, on December 21, that nurse and five of her colleagues were stood down and four were moved to other areas of the hospital.

Investigators examining the hospital’s drug records are understood to have uncovered unusually high usage of nitrous oxide and temazapam in the maternity ward.

This supports their belief that the parties have been something of a tradition at the hospital, rather than a one-off incident.

Yesterday, Illawarra Area Health Service chief executive Dr Tony Sherbon confirmed that an investigation into “unprofessional conduct” at Wollongong Hospital’s birthing unit had led to disciplinary action.

“The Illawarra Area Health Service executive and Wollongong Hospital managers are deeply concerned about this serious breach of conduct,” Dr Sherbon said.

“The decision to stand down midwives was made on December 21 following allegations they had misused nitrous oxide while on duty.

“There are also concerns about the high use of the sedative temazapam in the birthing unit and that investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

Dr Sherbon said the NSW Nursing Association and Nurses Registration Board had been advised of the decision to stand down the midwives.

And “a thorough review of all recent births at Wollongong Hospital has not shown any link between the use of nitrous oxide and any adverse outcomes for any mothers or babies”.

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