Quebec woman fired after working 20 years as hospital nurse without a license
Health officials in Quebec have discovered that a woman who had been working as a nurse and caring for hospital patients for 20 years was an impostor.
The health authority in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of eastern Quebec fired the woman this month from her position at the hospital in Jonquière.
The health authority said the woman managed to get hired and keep her job by providing the nursing license number of someone with the same name.
Her ploy was discovered a few weeks ago when she enrolled in a training course. An official noticed that the age listed on her license number did not match up with her actual age.
She was immediately suspended pending an investigation, which led to her dismissal.
Before being exposed, the woman had worked in several departments of the hospital, including the operating room.
A spokeswoman for the health authority said a search tuned up no evidence the woman had a nursing degree.
“Over the years, the documents asked of her were provided — falsified documents,” said Joelle Savard. She said a flaw in its records system has been fixed to ensure two people cannot use the same license number.
Savard was at a loss to explain how someone with no formal training had lasted in the job so long. Perhaps she had worked as a nurse’s aide and had absorbed the necessary skills, she suggested. It is also possible that because she was surrounded by competent people at the hospital, her shortcomings were never detected, she said.
A union representative said the news came as a big surprise.
“A few weeks, or a few months, that has happened before. But for such a long time, in our minds it was impossible,” Julie Bouchard said.
Luc Mathieu, president of Quebec’s Order of Nurses, said such cases of impostors are rare but troubling.
“It’s very serious, because that person could have committed acts that could have had serious consequences for patients,” he said.
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