A nurse gave two pensioners overdoses of the same powerful sleeping drug, a misconduct hearing was told yesterday.

Lucille Nwokocha, 65 of Wandsworth, gave the two elderly men double their required doses of Temazepam while on duty on the Jones Ward at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard.

The pensioners - referred to as patients A and B - only needed 20mg of the sedative but Nwokocha accidentally gave each 40mg on March 10, 2005.

She then tried to cover her tracks and failed to tell colleagues about the blunder, the panel heard.

Salim Hafejee, for the NMC, said Nwokocha made the mistake when she followed the prescription of a double dose, but used the wrong strength tablet.

He said: "She realised she had administered the double dosage on the basis that she came forward and admitted misadministering the drug.

"The same error was made by the registrant in relation to a second patient on the same evening.

"She sought to make up for the shortfall in patient B's tablet count by taking one tablet from patient A's drug supply."

The blunder was spotted by worried nurses who checked the drug record books after Nwokocha had left.

Nwokocha claimed there were no problems when healthcare assistant Patricia Idriss came to the ward during her rounds.

Miss Idriss told the hearing: "She said everything was fine, so I assumed everything was OK and went downstairs.

"I will go round with a torchlight to make sure everybody is alright. Their condition was almost the same, nothing unusual."

She thought the two patients seemed fine as she made her way around the ward.

Miss Idriss added: "I made a note on patient B. His blood result came back and it was to be read by the doctor.

"I did not make a recording about patient A. His condition seemed stable."

Nwokocha admits making the string of errors, including not telling the doctor on call or the senior nurse on duty about the accidents.

She also admits failing to record the errors in the patient's care plans or in the ward's drug record books.

Nwokocha arrived briefly at the hearing to hand in a letter admitting the charges, but denied her fitness to practice was impaired.

The panel will decide if her fitness to practice is impaired, before ruling on any sanction.

The hearing continues.