up front: i don't condone this nurse's behavior at all. it was unprofessional and boundaries were violated.
however, some things in the article raise some questions in my mind. the patient's wife says she suspected her husband was having an affair with the nurse, and he denied it in february. (but, we don't know when the wife suspected the affair.) yet, the wife asked the nurse to stay overnight - twice -with the patient while she was having a sleep studies in january. (is that even an appropriate request?) the nurse tells him she is pregnant by another man on march 2nd. he attempts suicide in her presence on march 4th. the patient tells the social worker on march 5th that he has "messed up everything". the wife finds "graphic exchanges" on the patient's computer after his suicide attempt, therefore, between march 4th and march 9th. on march 9th, the patient signs a typed statement stating that the nurse and he had inappropriate contact several times while she was on duty. do we know his state of mind when he signed this? he said he was seduced - but where did this statement come from? the patient is dead, so how do we know he said this, or did his wife say that he said this? (we can't tell from the article). do we know anything about this man's past? did he seduce the nurse? (he was a salesman, so probably was pretty good at schmoozing. did it boost his ego and his self esteem as a man to be able to find he was still attractive to a younger woman? how do we know he didn't cheat on his wife before he was diagnosed as terminally ill, and maybe she was finally, finally getting revenge and she wasn't going to let him get away with it "one last time"? ("she told the board she felt "horrible, betrayed." she testified, "after all of the things that i had been doing to take care of him and that this is what happened." ")perhaps the patient was feeling guilty about having the affair "found out" and told the social worker "what a fool i have been. i have messed up everything". we only see one side of the story, and the man, who could have been the biggest scum bag on earth, comes off as the poor dying, unsuspecting, abused, used patient.
my point here is that the article is written so as to present this in the worst possible light (granted, there is no "good side" to this situation). but i do feel we as nurses, do need to be a bit more empathetic on some level. i think we can see that she was trying to end the affair by telling his she was pregnant by someone else. so, somewhere in her brain, she knew this was wrong, but let things go way too far, but did a really stink job of it.
she didn't deny the affair happened; i believe she feels remorse over the situation but i think not allowing someone to practice for 20 years is a bit much. i think she may have been very naive, and maybe too trusting, loving and caring for her own good - and was seduced. she has probably learned a lesson. was there anyone around this nurse could talk to? did she have friends or co-workers that she could have talked to? an employee assistance program she could have turned to? how much experience (and what kind) did she have when she got into hospice nursing? did any of her co-workers or supervisors have an inkling something was amiss with this relationship? (surely someone else made a visit or two between november and march when it all turned to custard.) if the wife had concerns about an inappropriate relationship in february - why didn't she contact the hospice company then and ask for a different nurse? this whole situation took place in oklahoma, but the article states the patient died in may in illinois, (where was the dedicated, caring wife? the article doesn't say) and the wife moved to nebraska after his death. the wife "indicated" he starved himself to death, and this article is written to suggest this was somehow the nurse's fault, as well. would starving to death in the face of a terminal illness such as this patient faced, be terribly uncommon? he had been told months earlier, before this nurse began caring for him (in november of 2009) that he had six months or less to live, and he died in may (about 6 months after she started caring for him) so he lived a bit beyond his estimated time frame, so she didn't lessen his life in any way. (and perhaps the affair offered some excitement that kept him alive longer). and, just weeks before his death, he and his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against the hospice company (which was dropped - why?)
there is so much that isn't in this article, so many things we really don't know about the whole case and the background. there is a lot of sensationalism going on. i guess i've been around awhile and just want to hear the whole story rather than just one view of it before deciding the degree of guilt. obviously, the nurse overstepped professional bounds, which can't be excused. (then again, maybe that's what the board decided when they suspended her license for 20 years and fined her. and what is the difference between having a license revoked and having it suspended for 20 years? wouldn't someone move on and go into another profession or line of work in the mean time?) i think it would have been interesting to hear some of the nurse's defense, and hear what her side of things may have been.