Fake nurse jailed in Ahpra prosecution

Wednesday, 27 September, 2023

Fake nurse jailed in Ahpra prosecution

A South Australian woman, named Alison Jane Mibus, has been sent to jail for pretending to be a registered health practitioner.

The woman has never been registered as a nurse and has been convicted by the South Australian Magistrates’ Court for the second time for falsely claiming to be a registered practitioner.

This is the most serious sentence ever imposed under the National Law and the first sentence leading to imprisonment in jail, according to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).

Mibus has been sentenced to four months and 28 days’ imprisonment in relation to five charges of holding herself out as a registered nurse, and one charge of claiming to be qualified to practise as a nurse, in breach of section 116 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009.

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said, “The nurse–patient relationship requires the utmost trust, and anyone who abuses that faith should face the full consequences of their actions.

“While this is a strong outcome, it is disappointing this individual didn’t learn her lesson last time. You cannot lie to the public that you are a registered health practitioner; we will prosecute you.”

Mibus applied for the role of practice manager at a medical clinic in January 2019 and while the role did not require the appropriate candidate to be registered as a nurse, she falsely claimed to be a registered nurse with years of nursing experience, which set her apart from other applicants and ensured she got the job.

During her employment from March 2020 to September 2020, Mibus continued her ruse. In multiple emails to a range of people, including SA Health, Mibus represented herself as a registered nurse, and one colleague allowed Mibus to administer vaccinations to his parents and himself.

She also lied to colleagues and told them she was undertaking clinical nursing shifts at another medical centre so that she could “maintain [my] registration”.

During an additional internal job application, Mibus again falsely claimed to have nursing registration and qualifications. Her deception was only realised after she resigned from her position and her employer reported their concerns to Ahpra.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Chair Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM said everyone should pay attention to this outcome.

“Being able to call yourself a nurse in Australia means something, and for someone to knowingly represent themselves as one to secure a job not only discredits the hard work and commitment of the profession, but is a criminal offence.

“Employers are also reminded to ensure their employees are registered when they say they are and are not misleading patients, colleagues or authorities. It is putting the public at risk of harm,” she said.

This is the second time Mibus has been prosecuted by Ahpra for claiming to be a registered nurse. In February 2020, Mibus was sentenced on three counts of holding herself out to be a registered nurse and was fined $10,500. She administered vaccines and treated patients while employed as a practice manager at a different medical centre during 2017.

At the time of her earlier offending the maximum penalty for the offence was a $30,000 fine; however, parliaments around Australia (other than WA) have since increased the maximum penalty to a fine of $60,000, three years’ imprisonment or both.

The previous penalty, noted Magistrate Dixon, did not achieve the desired effect, and instead Mibus continued to hold herself out as a nurse in identical offending to a new employer.

In sentencing, Magistrate Dixon said, “Parliament has indicated that this type of offending is so serious that the court should have the option of imprisonment where appropriate … the severity of these penalties is intended to deter people from holding out as health practitioners and performing procedures when they have no such qualifications.

“Given the seriousness of the offending and the potential risk to the community, given it has the potential to undermine the confidence in the registration process for nurses, and given the offending began when (Ms Mibus) was before the court for identical offending and continued … the only appropriate penalty is imprisonment.”

Mibus’s term of imprisonment was reduced from seven months to four months and 28 days in recognition of her plea of guilty.

Anyone with concerns about whether an individual is registered can check the online register of practitioners maintained by Ahpra or call 1300 419 495.

Image credit: iStockphoto.com/sakhorn38

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