A nurse in Western Australia has been arrested after allegedly pretending to administer a COVID-19 vaccine dose. She was charged with one count of gains benefit by fraud.
Christina Hartmann Benz, a nurse at a Perth medical clinic, was arrested after allegedly pretending to administer a vaccine to a 15-year-old. It is alleged that she inserted the needle into the teenager’s arm but did not actually inject the contents, instead discarding the full syringe in a bin.
It is alleged she falsified medical records to state the vaccine was administered by a nurse other than herself.
Benz’s practices were allegedly revealed when a secondary medical practitioner tasked with overseeing the vaccination noticed she had not actually administered the dose. The medical centre then reported the incident to the police.
The doctor overseeing Benz’ practices terminated the nurse’s employment immediately following the incident. According to the doctor, the father of the teenager promptly returned to the centre complaining that the dose had caused adverse symptoms.
Western Australian Police allege up to 25 other patients saw Benz over the weekend under circumstances they are now deeming as suspicious. It is alleged she had received permission from her employer for people with whom she was acquainted to have their vaccine administered by her.
Benz had been working at the clinic for less than a week when she was arrested.
The prosecutor undertaking the case says more charges are likely to come as Benz allegedly used other medical practitioners’ names when completing the relevant paperwork. According to the prosecutor, “the amount of people coming to that clinic specifically looking for her shows premeditation at the higher end of the scale”.
The defence barrister called these claims “speculative and hypothetical”.
Benz was granted bail on Monday under strict conditions. She will not be permitted to practice as a registered nurse or administer any vaccines, nor may she make any contact with patients or employees at her former place of employment. This includes the use of social media.
“It’s far more serious than just an allegation of fraud, this has the potential to cost lives, that’s what we’re talking about here,” Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Mark Olson told 9News.
Investigations into the breadth of Benz’s alleged conduct are ongoing.
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