Marcella Calvano 9613159
Allegation and Plea
The College alleged that the Member accessed personal health information for approximately 338 clients, without consent or other authorization, and 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 an agreement to the following facts.
The Member had previously worked on Unit A where, as part of her role, she had access to an electronic tracker which allowed one to view client information. When she was transferred to Unit B, she should have lost access to the electronic tracker as she did not require such access to perform her duties. However, she remained able to access the tracker.
A nurse on Unit A was unable to gain access to an electronic health record for a specific client because the Member was viewing the record and it was locked. The Member did not have consent or other authorization to be viewing this health record. The Manager was advised.
Audits were conducted and it was determined that the Member inappropriately accessed the electronic health records for 338 clients between January 2011 and December 2012. The Member was not within the clients’ circle of care and had no consent or other authorization to access these records.
The Member admitted to the Facility that she had accessed the health records for clients outside of her circle of care.
The Panel found that the evidence supported findings of professional misconduct as alleged, and that the Member’s conduct would be regarded as dishonourable and unprofessional. The conduct demonstrated serious and persistent disregard for the Member’s professional obligations.
Submissions on Order
The College sought an oral reprimand and a three-month suspension. The Member would be required to complete specified remediation activities in preparation for a series of meetings with a nursing expert. For a period of 18 months from the date the Member returns to the practice of nursing, 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.
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. The penalty satisfied the principles of specific and general deterrence, rehabilitation and remediation, and public protection. The panel noted that, in particular, the order of a three-month suspension provides a clear message to the profession that unauthorized access to client information is an act that will not be dealt with lightly. It is the obligation of every nurse to protect every client’s right to privacy and when one disregards this important responsibility, it casts doubt upon and damages the trust that the public places in the nursing profession.