Saskatchewan nurse fined for palliative care critique on Facebook loses appeal
By The Canadian Press
REGINA – A nurse who was fined $26,000 for criticizing the quality of care her grandfather received in long-term care has lost her appeal of the penalty.
The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association imposed the fine on Carolyn Strom of Prince Albert for unprofessional conduct after she posted the comments on Facebook in 2015.
Strom shared her critique of the care her grandfather received with Saskatchewan’s minister of health, the NDP Opposition and the public.
The association said Strom used her status as a nurse for personal purposes and violated confidentiality.
In the appeal, Strom focused on her right to freedom of expression, while the association argued she should have complained through proper channels rather than on social media.
In his ruling, Justice Grant Currie of Court of Queen’s Bench says the decision by the association’s discipline committee to impose the fine was reasonable and within its legal power.
“Having found professional misconduct, not because she expressed her concerns but because of how she went about it, the committee observed that Ms. Strom was not left without an avenue for expressing her concerns,” Currie wrote in a judgment released Wednesday. “Avenues were available to Ms. Strom for asserting her criticisms of the registered nurses – so that criticisms could be addressed without causing the harm that the committee found had been caused.”
In her Facebook posts, Strom was concerned about the quality of care her grandfather received before he died and called on decision- makers to make improvements.
“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,” she wrote when she was on maternity leave from her nursing job. “Don’t get me wrong. Some people have provided excellent care, so I thank you very much for your efforts, but to those who made grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time!
“My grandmother has chosen to stay in your facility, so here is your chance to treat her ‘like you would want your own family members to be treated.”’
Legal counsel for the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had argued for the appeal to be granted.