Boozy hospital guard in bloody court battle

A DRUNK hospital security guard who claimed he was "poked" with a needle and forced to urinate in front of colleagues has failed in suing the region's health service.

James Pere, a former guard and fire safety officer at Gladstone Hospital, sought $405,000 in damages from Central Queensland Health and Hospital Service following an altercation in August, 2012.

Despite being more than four times over the legal alcohol limit when he fronted up to work, the Papua New Guinean national claimed it was others who were in the wrong and him who ultimately suffered a "psychiatric injury".

Brisbane District Court heard that on the night in question, concerned staff pointed Mr Pere towards the Emergency Department where he underwent blood and urine tests.

On Mr Pere's version he was "pushed" into the emergency room by a colleague who was jealous of his promotion and had been spreading false rumours about him.

Once there, Mr Pere claimed he told the nurse he had consumed two bottles of wine, which he later corrected to two glasses, but was not drunk.

He told the court he was talking to a doctor when a nurse "came and approached me from the other side with a syringe and I realised she had poked me".

He said he was then forced to provide a urine sample in view of a nurse which left him feeling "shamed and humiliated".

"I was given a small bottle and I was told to provide some of my pee sample," Mr Pere said.

"The nurse was directly looking at my private parts while I was doing that business."

Mr Pere claimed the incident amounted to assault, negligence and a breach of duty of care.

The court heard that after being sent home and stood down on full pay for two shifts, Mr Pere sought help from then Australian Workers' Union official (and former federal Labor candidate for Flynn) Zac Beers.

Email communication between Queensland Health and Mr Beers was eventually resolved with Mr Pere being given a warning about his intoxication at work and the department acknowledging the taking of blood was "contrary to their policy and protocols".

During the recent hearings however, hospital staff insisted Mr Pere had consented to the tests.

Therese Gardner, the nurse who took a sample of Mr Pere's blood, said he was sitting quietly for the test and was "alert and oriented and co-operative".

Dr Marc Drouler said that while Mr Pere had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech he "seemed to be agreeable" when he was told he would have to undergo tests.

Judge Brendan Butler accepted the account of the doctor and nurse and found Mr Pere's claims that he was "penetrated by a needle before he realised it was to happen" to be "implausible".

He also questioned Mr Pere's credibility given he had lied about a similar incident that occurred while he was working at a Gladstone hotel.

The court heard Mr Pere was "quite intoxicated" when his duty manager saw him watching a game of football on his phone but that when questioned during cross-examination, Mr Pere denied being terminated because he was caught drinking on the job.

Mr Pere had tried to claim that he left the job at the hotel because the incident at the hospital had caused him to "fear" security work.

There was also evidence Mr Pere was experiencing unrelated stress because of the breakdown of his marriage to his Australian wife and the threat of being returned to his home country.

"In my view feelings of anger and resentment towards Queensland Health due to ongoing disciplinary issues did not constitute a psychiatric injury," Judge Butler said.

"It has not been shown to be more probable than not that, but for the taking of the (blood and urine samples), the psychological condition of the plaintiff would not have existed."

The claim was dismissed. Legal costs will be determined at a later date.


Topics:  central queensland health and hospital service

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