This is not only a travesty of justice it is actually a test case for the nursing association to indicate to other nurses their fate if they go public. In this case, the family apparently did go through the proper channels and I don't see how talking about her grandfather's care harmed the reputation of anyone since there was an investigation apparently that validated the family's concerns. Surely the nursing association is not saying to the nurses and the public that such matters should be kept hidden? Or is this the objective of such complaints and punishments?
The strange matter to me is that nurses are supposed to advocate for their patients but what happens when they see this ruling and decide it is just not worth the ensuing problems? Alberta has the Protection for Persons in Care legislation which in my opinion is pretty useless in protecting anyone from lawsuits or retribution such as the employer terminating you for complaints. In my opinion, nurses know of neglect, abuse and problems in the workplace and simply keep their mouths shut because of Carolyn Strom's case. It's just a matter of discipline we are told. But what exactly is she being disciplined for? Is she being disciplined for breaking the code of silence?
The code of silence among professions and the silencing of the lambs among advocates in Alberta is such a strong toxic relationship that we never hear the horror stories until some families went public. The families that went public are few and far between in Alberta. Most of the time, the cases are whitewashed and hidden by PPIC reports and the folks at Alberta Health who have their stock line of "Abuse will not be tolerated" to say at every fatality. The sad news that families have for the public is this--Carolyn Strom spoke the truth. And you get retribution for speaking the truth. It's just the Alberta way. And I guess it is also the Saskatchewan way.
Crime Diary - Saskatchewan nurse's $26K fine is a travesty of justice
THOM BARKER / YORKTON THIS WEEK
APRIL 13, 2017 05:29 AM
In a civilized society, whether it is in the official justice system, public institutions, professional organizations, businesses, or even families, justice should be proportional.
In the vernacular, the punishment should fit the crime.
There is nothing even approaching proportional in the case of Saskatchewan nurse Carolyn Strom. After finding Strom guilty of “professional misconduct” in October, the Saskatchewan Registered Nurse’s Association decided last week the appropriate penalty would be a $1,000 fine, $25,000 in cost recovery from the investigation, a reprimand, writing a “self-reflective essay” and completing an online ethics course.
And what was the egregious crime for which such a draconian penalty would be warranted?
She embarrassed some unnamed colleagues in a Facebook post.
After hearing about her recently deceased grandfather’s and her family’s experience at St. Joseph’s Health Facility in Macklin, Strom wrote: “it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity.
“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time.”
Apparently, when you join the nursing profession, you give up your constitutional right to free speech under Section 2, subsection b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Perhaps it is fair enough for a self-regulated profession to impose ethical standards on its membership more rigourous than those to which the general public might be held.
In this case, the key provision was Section 26 of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Act, which defines professional misconduct as “any matter, conduct or thing, whether or not disgraceful or dishonourable, that is contrary to the best interests of the public or nurses or tends to harm the standing of the profession of nursing.”
Specifically SRNA charged that Strom: failed to respect patient confidentiality by identifying her grandfather; failed to follow proper channels in making a complaint; made comments that had a negative impact on the reputation of staff and a facility; failed to first obtain all the facts; and used her status of registered nurse for personal purposes.
To its credit, the disciplinary committee dropped the breach of privacy charge. Indiscriminately hiding behind patient confidentiality is a favourite trick of the health care industry in general to avoid airing its dirty laundry in public.
I think we can all agree, and Strom herself has admitted, she crossed a line here. SRNA should have proceeded with the educational aspects of the discipline, to which Strom and her lawyer were agreeable, and moved on.
The $150,000 they wasted on the investigation could then have been used to investigate the allegations about the treatment of patients at the facility. Even if Strom did not follow proper channels, the complaint remains and it is of far graver concern than a lapse of judgment of a grieving granddaughter who happens to be a nurse. Do the families of the patients at St. Joseph’s not have a right to know that their loved ones are being treated properly?
This case was an overzealous prosecution and a travesty of justice. In fact, it is more like persecution really. But the SRNA discipline committee felt the egregious financial penalty was necessary because “deterrence is an important consideration.”
The problem here is that a punishment so disproportionate with the offence does not just say ‘don’t air your grievances on social media,’ it says, ‘turn a blind eye, keep your head down, shut the hell up, and hold on for dear life until you are eligible for retirement’ because there is no protection for whistle-blowers in your profession and your professional organization does not have your back.
There is currently a Go Fund Me campaign to cover the cost of the fines. In my opinion, those funds should go toward fighting this decision in the courts. It may not have been an infringement of Strom’s right to free speech, but it is almost certainly an infringement of her right under Section 12 of the Charter, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.- See more at: http://www.yorktonthisweek.com/opinion/columnists/crime-diary-saskatchewan-nurse-s-26k-fine-is-a-travesty-of-justice-1.15096090#sthash.8PKW3s2b.dpuf
Support Nurses Right To Speak Out!(UPDATE): We wish to thank everyone who contributed. All funds are transferred to Carolyn Strom, in case of any money left over after her legal fees are covered, we will be donating to a seniors' advocacy group.
As nurses, nursing students and nursing faculty in Canada, we are deeply disturbed by the SRNA's treatment of Carolyn Strom and wish to show our solidarity.
On February 25, 2015, nurse Carolyn Strom, after having witnessed what she considers inadequate care for her dying grandfather, posted a critique on Facebook of the long-term care home in which he spent his final days. Even though she was evidently distraught by the passing of her loved one, she nevertheless managed to bring some constructive criticism and advice to the staff that cared for her grandfather. Instead of addressing the concerns cited in the post directly, the staff and management of the long-term care facility filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA), which is the regulatory body of professional nursing in the province. This complaint was received, and after a trial that lasted over two years where nurse Strom was ‘laid into’ as per witnesses, she was found guilty of professional misconduct (1-2). The SRNA wishes to impose a 30,000$ penalty; 5000$ in fines and 25,000$ to cover the cost of their investigations. This harsh penalty, according to the SRNA lawyer, serves to “ drive home” the message that nurses cannot publicly criticize their profession (3).
This last statement touches the core of the issue. Nurses are healthcare professionals and as such are rightfully held to high standards. They should always act in the best interest of the people they care for. But those standards should NOT include self-censorship and renouncing their right to speak-up.
Despite widespread outrage at the treatment of Carolyn Strom, including a petition signed by nearly 600 supporters asking the SRNA to reverse its decision (4), the SRNA has refused to even discuss the case with nurses or students (5).
Nurse Carolyn Strom has spent two years travelling hundreds of miles to attend her disciplinary hearings which were held hours away from her place of residence. The financial and physical toll this ordeal has taken on her is excruciating. Furthermore, her penalty hearing is coming to a close, and it is likely the SRNA will succeed in imposing the 30,000$ penalty.
Please show your solidarity by donating and/or write to the SRNA and sign the petition to express your opinion on this matter. All the funds we raise will be sent to our colleague Carolyn Strom. The SRNA decision is setting a precedent for nurses across Canada. Nurses must not be muzzled! Let nurses speak!
Marilou Gagnon, RN, PhD, Ottawa, Ont.
Damien Contandripoulos, PhD, Montreal, Qc.
Amélie Perron, PhD, Ottawa, Ont.
Natalie Stake-Doucet, RN, Montreal, Qc.
Emilie Hudson, RN, Montreal, Qc.
Caroline Dufour, RN, Ottawa, Ont.
Jaimie Carrier, RN, Dalhousie, NS.
Sophie Pomerleau, RN, PhD(c) Qc.
Anne Lardeux, MSc, Montreal, Qc.
Bernard Roy, RN, PhD, Quebec, Qc.
1- National Post article: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/shes-attacking-me-as-a-colleague-registered-nurse-facing-discipline-over-critical-facebook-post
2- Transcript of discipline decision:https://www.srna.org/images/stories/RN_Competence/Comp_Assurance_Hearings/SRNA_Discipline_Decision_Strom_Redacted_Oct_27_2016.pdf
3- Toronto Sun article: http://www.torontosun.com/2017/02/18/complaining-about-granddads-care-on-facebook-could-cost-nurse-30gs
4- Online petition: https://www.change.org/p/saskatchewan-registered-nurses-association-let-nurses-speak
5- Letter to SRNA from nursing students:https://radicalnursesite.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/nursing-students-want-to-talk-about-silence/