When you go to the doctor's or the hospital you expect the best level of care, especially since you are literally putting your life in someone else's hands. Unfortunately, that may not have been the case for some Canadians recently. The Quebec Order of Nurses is looking into the case of a woman in Canada who posed as a nurse for 20 years with no official training or certification.
The Canadian woman, whose identity has been concealed, had been using fake documentation including the licence number of a real Canadian nurse from the region, who had exactly the same name.
According to the region’s health authority, Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux (CIUSSS) du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, the fake nurse worked in numerous departments in the hospital, one of which was surgery.
Joëlle Savard, the spokesperson for CIUSSS, said that it is not yet known for sure whether any issues, accidents or mistreatment resulted from the woman posing as a nurse. She said that no major incidents had been brought to the attention of CIUSSS, and "if there were, they were dealt with at the time."
The unqualified nurse was caught after an employee of the region’s health board noticed irregularity regarding the nursing license number the woman had been using. The employee’s suspicion led to an investigation by the health board that found the woman guilty of impersonation.
The woman was first dismissed from her role at the hospital, and now the CIUSSS and the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) are considering further legal action.
While the legal consequences in Canada remain unclear, according to the US website EMedicalAssistants.com, “impersonating a nurse is a crime. What they are doing is misrepresenting themselves and leading people to believe that they have a greater level of education and qualification than they have. Depending on the laws of your state it can either be considered a misdemeanor or felony”.
In 2010, a woman in Calgary was arrested for impersonating a nurse by using forged documents. She was charged in Alberta with impersonation and released on bail. Later, she was convicted of similar offenses in Ontario and sentenced to six months in jail and fined $60,000.
While it remains to be seen what will happen to this fake nurse, her actions are already affecting nursing regulations. As a result of this “skillful" woman, who was able to “bypass our verification process”, Savard said that the CIUSSS has reviewed their procedures so that in future it is not possible to use the same nursing license number more than once. The Quebec Order of Nurses has also assured the public that they are taking steps to ensure this can never happen again.
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.