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Mandy Gayle Edgerton 0215129
Allegations and Plea
The College alleged that the Member accessed personal health information for approximately 300 clients, without consent or other authorization and that this conduct would be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.
In addition, the College alleged that the Member failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with a client. It was also alleged that the Member failed to transcribe a medication accurately, or failed to consult or make appropriate inquiries after concerns were raised by the client.
The Member admitted to some of the allegations, and the College and the Member jointly submitted an agreement to the following facts. The College called no evidence with respect to the remainder of the allegations.
The Member was employed in the Emergency Department at the Facility. The Member had access to all electronic health records of all clients in the Facility using a unique username and self-selected confidential password.
The Member was also a Clinical Instructor and taught student placements at the Facility.
The Member was later employed at an Agency providing homecare.
After a student reported that the Member had accessed the student’s electronic health record when the student attended at the Emergency Department, the Facility conducted an audit of the Member’s access to electronic health records.
Audits were completed for the time period between January 2010 and March 2012 and revealed that the Member accessed 285 client records without consent or other authorization.
The Member acknowledged that she had no professional reason to access the bulk of the client records and did so without consent or other authorization.
The Member accessed the electronic health record of someone she knew personally. The Member had not been involved in the client’s care at any time and acknowledged that there was no professional purpose to have accessed the electronic health record.
While working for the Agency, the Member was assigned to provide home care to a client.
During the time that the Member provided care to the client, she discussed her personal life; brought a family member to the client’s house for dinner; purchased clothing for the client; attended the client’s house with one or more friends; and invited the client’s family to a charity event.
The Member realized that she should not have engaged with the client and his family on a personal level and she failed to maintain the boundaries of the therapeutic nurse-client relationship.
The Panel found that the Member contravened the standards of practice when she accessed the files of approximately 300 clients without authorization and this conduct was also dishonourable and unprofessional. The Panel also found that the Member contravened the standards of practice when she failed to maintain appropriate boundaries with a client and this conduct was unprofessional.
Submissions on Order
The College and the Member jointly sought an oral reprimand and a four-month suspension. The Member was required to complete specified remediation activities in preparation for a series of meetings with a nursing expert. For 18 months after returning to practice, the Member would be required to advise the College of her employers and provide employers with a copy of the Panel’s decision and reasons. The Member would only practise for an employer who agreed to advise the College if the Member breached the standards of practice of the profession or accessed client health records without consent or other authorization.
The Panel accepted the proposed order as reasonable and in the public interest. The order satisfied the principles of specific and general deterrence, rehabilitation and remediation, and public protection. In particular, the suspension sends a clear message to the membership that breaches of privacy will not be dealt with lightly. The Member accepted responsibility for her actions and cooperated with the College by agreeing to the facts and proposed penalty.
The Panel declined to make any comments on the Facility’s role as there was no evidentiary foundation for these submissions. The Member’s obligations were independent of the Facility’s obligations.