Saskatchewan nurse challenges college’s ruling over professional misconduct

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Saskatchewan nurse challenges college’s ruling over professional misconduct
The College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan ruled Jessica McCulloch, among other things, falsified records of narcotics given to patients and provided toiletries when she shouldn't have. She is appealing that ruling – Apr 7, 2022

A nurse, whose professional oversight body found she violated professional conduct by falsifying logs of narcotics given to inmates and by providing toiletries to inmates, is appealing the decisions.

Jessica McCulloch said the decisions from the College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan (CRNS) were unfair and forced her to relive trauma.

Last year, the CRNS ruled McCulloch committed five counts of misconduct or professional incompetence while she worked at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford.

It dismissed another five counts McCulloch was facing.

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“I truly feel (the investigations were) more of an, ‘I meet you, do I like you or not? And if I don’t like you, well I’m just going to hold my wits on that,’” she told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

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The executive director of the CRNS, Cindy Smith, in a statement, said the organization has a legislative obligation to protect the public, “by ensuring the safe, competent and ethical practice of Registered Nurses.”

Copies of the decisions show the charges range from providing “canteen privileges to patients who had lost their privileges,” bringing “contraband items such as Q-tips and newspapers” and completing a patient’s puzzle while he was away “just to p— him off,” to falsifying records of drugs given out.

“You were the RN (registered nurse) on shift when 40 acetaminophen with codeine 30 mg tabs… went missing,” the second charge states, stating she failed to follow proper procedure to account for drug wastage.

It also states she changed her explanation during the investigation, that she failed to “honestly account for missing drugs,” and that there was no evidence the drugs had been wasted.

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The college also determined she “falsely documented… the name of a person who did not witness the alleged wastage of a narcotic” and that she administered double the dose on that occasion.

In that instance the decision shows the investigators believed her actions, “potentially contributed to the underground economy of the drug trade among the inmate population,” but the college ruled there was no evidence of that.

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One of McCulloch’s lawyers, Brandi Rintoul, said the investigation heard testimony from other nurses that showed the RPC did not have strict guidelines for handling narcotic medication.

The CRNS statement did not address Rintoul’s allegations of lax narcotic management, though Global News did ask.

Rintoul also said the three-week hearing was triggered McCulloch’s PTSD, which began when she was held hostage at RPC in 2011.

“Jessica was pushed to the ground, straddled by the inmate, and a toilet brush, sharpened, was held to her neck,” Rintoul recounted.

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The conditions of the ruling require, among other things, McCulloch to pay $50,000. It also states she will remain suspended until she provides reports from her psychologist and psychiatrist stating her mental health is sufficient to return to work.

Should she return to work, she will be supervised by other nurses for several hundred hours and her employer will provide written reports after every 240 hours of RN practice, up to 2,000 hours.

It also states she must share the findings and conditions of the decisions with new employers, should she work as an RN.

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McCulloch said she is not working and receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

She said she hopes her appeal of the decision forces the CRNS to reevaluate its hearing process, to potentially include independent and objective participants.

The statement from the CRNS stated the investigation and discipline committees are independent.

Click to play video: 'Almost 60% of Saskatchewan nurses considered leaving profession in past year, survey shows'
Almost 60% of Saskatchewan nurses considered leaving profession in past year, survey shows

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