Elizabeth Wettlaufer: Ontario nursing home cited for dozens of ‘medication incidents’
Inspection reports show an Ontario long-term care home where a former nurse is accused of killing seven seniors was taken to task by the province for dozens of “medication incidents” just before it was ordered to stop admitting patients.
The recently released reports, which are dated Jan. 24, indicate there were 41 drug-related incidents at the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock, Ont., between early August and late December of last year.
The records show 22 such incidents involved medication not given to patients, six involved patients given the wrong dosage, five involved drugs given to the wrong person, three were doses given at the wrong time and one was medication administered without a prescription.
The home was also ordered to document cases in which patients experienced adverse reactions to drugs, something inspectors found it had failed to do.
The incidents laid out in the reports took place more than two years after the departure of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former nurse now charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, seven of which involve then-residents of the home.
Caressant Care was told to stop accepting new patients on Jan. 25 after the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care expressed concerns about the safety of current or future residents.
WATCH: Bodies exhumed in Elizabeth Wettlaufer case (Jan. 24)
The ministry said at the time that concerns about the home related to incidents that occurred since August 2016 and did not involve “any issues that the police have been asked to investigate.”
Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, told Global News’ Focus Ontario Thursday that the tragic incident had an immense impact on her members.
“This has never happened before in Canadian history — and I think what this has done is that it’s put a sense of fear across everyone that long-term care is not safe,” she said.
“Of any sector out there, if anything we’re very safe. It’s a very safe place to put your loved one it’s just, nobody could ever have expected anything like this to ever happen.”
Chartier, who is also a registered nurse by trade, added she did not believe further regulations could have prevented the deaths.
“You can’t predict somebody for being a serial killer … You just can’t predict anything like this happening and if anything we have the most rigorous regulatory system in North America,” she said.
“I’m shocked that somebody who took a profession to care for people could have done this allegedly, but I just hope that nothing like this could ever happen again and we can do something to flag it or prevent it from ever happening again — it’s devastating.”
WATCH: 6 new charges laid against former Ontario nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer (Jan. 13)
Police launched an investigation in late September after becoming aware of information that Wettlaufer had given to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto that caused them concern, a police source has told The Canadian Press.
The 49-year-old former nurse was arrested in October and charged with murder in connection with the deaths of residents at nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. Police alleged Wettlaufer used drugs to kill the seniors while she worked at the facilities between 2007 and 2014.
Last month, police laid additional attempted murder and aggravated assault charges and exhumed two bodies as part of their ongoing investigation.
The allegations against Wettlaufer have not been proven in court. The next court hearing in her case is set for Feb. 15.
Records from the College of Nurses of Ontario show Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995 but resigned Sept. 30, 2016, and is no longer a registered nurse.
Caressant Care, which owns 15 long-term care homes in Ontario, declined to comment. In one of the reports, however, the facility’s director of nursing was reported to have “acknowledged that numerous medication incidents had happened, that they were concerning and required action by the home.”