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Sheila Mary O’Neill GJ10085
Allegations and Plea
The College alleged that the Member attempted to force a client to take medications without consent and assaulted the client when she refused. The College also alleged that this conduct would be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.
The Member admitted to the allegations and the College and the Member jointly submitted the following facts.
The Member worked in a retirement residence. She attempted to administer medication crushed in applesauce to a 91-year-old client. The Client did not want to take the crushed pills. The Member pinched or twisted the skin on the Client’s knee, causing a bleeding wound. The Client cried out in pain and was emotionally upset.
The Member was charged with the criminal offence of assault of the client. She pled guilty and received a conditional discharge and three years’ probation.
The Panel found that the Member committed acts of professional misconduct as alleged, and that her conduct would be seen as disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional. Forcing an unwilling client to take medications by inflicting pain demonstrated a serious and persistent disregard for the Member’s professional obligations, and cast serious doubt on her moral fitness and inherent ability to discharge the higher obligations the public expects professionals to meet.
Submissions on Order
The Member signed an undertaking with the College, agreeing to permanently resign and not apply again for membership with the College.
The College and the Member jointly sought an oral reprimand. The parties agreed that mitigating factors included the Member’s age (76) and physical condition (she has a serious mobility issue), and the fact that she had retired from practice and signed an undertaking with the College never to reapply for registration as a nurse in Ontario or any other jurisdiction. Aggravating factors included the vulnerability of the client and the criminal finding of guilt.
The Panel accepted the joint submission as reasonable and in the public interest. The Member accepted responsibility for her actions and cooperated with the College by agreeing to the facts and proposed penalty.
Had the Member’s situation been different, the Panel would have ordered a suspension and terms, conditions and limitations even though she had resigned. Given the Member’s age, mobility issue, and undertaking, additional terms are unnecessary.