Fake nurse worked for months at B.C. hospital despite several complaints: court filing

Click to play video: 'Court filing says fake nurse worked for months at B.C. hospital despite several complaints'
Court filing says fake nurse worked for months at B.C. hospital despite several complaints
More shocking details are emerging about the fake nurse who worked in B.C. court documents say Brigitte Cleroux was disciplined several times for her conduct towards patients and co-workers but was still allowed to work at the hospital. Catherine Urquhart reports. – Jun 14, 2022

An imposter nurse who is now behind bars was disciplined multiple times for “inappropriate behaviour” before she was fired from the B.C. Women’s Hospital, a new court filing has revealed.

Brigitte Cleroux was sometimes “insensitive to her surroundings” and “disrespectful” to patients and coworkers, according the Provincial Health Services Authority.

She was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 20, 2020, suspended without pay on Dec. 1, 2020, and placed on paid leave pending the results of an investigation on June 7, 2021.

Nevertheless, the Gatineau, Que., woman remained fraudulently employed until her termination on June 23, 2021.

Read more: Fake nurse at centre of proposed class-action lawsuit against B.C. health authority

The new details about Cleroux’s time at the hospital are contained in the health authority’s recently filed response to a proposed class-action lawsuit that was submitted last year on behalf of a former patient.

Story continues below advertisement

The class action alleges anyone who was treated by Cleroux at the women’s hospital between June 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, suffered battery, and holds the health authority responsible.

In its court filing, the agency denies all liability for her actions, arguing it didn’t “authorize” any of them, and because she defrauded them when applying for employment, she was never a true employee.

Click to play video: 'B.C. women treated by ‘fake’ nurse speak out, and explore legal action'
B.C. women treated by ‘fake’ nurse speak out, and explore legal action

According to the response, Cleroux’s eventual termination came after a handful of problematic incidents at the hospital, where she worked in the post-anaesthetic care unit from June 22, 2020, to June 23, 2021.

In August 2020, she pressured a student nurse to practice inserting an IV on another nurse in the unit while two patients were nearby, and was overheard “laughing loudly.”

That October, she was also overheard saying she wanted to “punch or hit” an anaesthesia assistant in the face, and was accused of being “physically and verbally inappropriate” when she failed to ensure a patient felt comfortable with an IV insertion.

Story continues below advertisement

Around December, the response alleges Cleroux gave narcotics to a patient who was being transferred to another unit, in violation of medical standards. An anaesthesiologist had also raised concerns about Cleroux’s use of force in straightening a patient’s arm to place a blood pressure cuff.

Read more: B.C. and Ontario ‘fake nurse’ Brigitte Cleroux sentenced in Ottawa to 7 years

Cleroux has not completed nursing school or held a valid nursing licence anywhere in Canada, but according to the health authority’s filing, recommended improvements to nursing practices in the unit, and took other steps to “appear sufficiently competent.”

The agency only discovered her true identity upon initiating an investigation into her conduct on June 7, 2021, after she had reportedly been “aggressive and dismissive” toward another staffer who raised an issue of patient confidentiality with her.

Click to play video: 'Woman accused of impersonating nurse at B.C. Woman’s Hospital'
Woman accused of impersonating nurse at B.C. Woman’s Hospital

On June 18, 2021, the authority contacted the BC Colleges of Nurses and Midwives and confirmed Cleroux was not, in fact, “Melanie Smith.”

Story continues below advertisement

The imposter had used falsified credentials in the name of a real nurse who is registered to work in B.C. to pass two interviews, a reference check, and a scan of the nursing college’s website.

The agency fired Cleroux five days later, and informed patients who may have been treated by her of what they had learned. It also alerted the college that Cleroux may have already posed as a nurse elsewhere in B.C., or may intend to do so again in another province.

Read more: B.C. and Ontario ‘fake nurse’ Brigitte Cleroux apologizes to her victims

Meanwhile, Cleroux left Vancouver for Ottawa, where she successfully applied as Melanie Smith to work as a nurse in a fertility clinic and women’s health centre. While employed between July 26, 2021, and Aug. 11, 2021, her duties included administering medication and injections.

She quit after a nurse launched a complaint with the nursing college there, and realized Melanie Smith was not a registered nurse in Ontario. By that time, Cleroux had already secured a position at a maxillofacial surgery clinic, but was arrested by police shortly afterward.

According to the health authority response, Cleroux has worked as a fake nurse in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, and posed as a teacher in Alberta. She has more than 60 criminal convictions, mostly for fraud, theft, personation and using false documents, plus convictions for larceny and possession of counterfeit documents in the United States.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Facebook group linked to fake COVID-19 mask exemption cards'
Facebook group linked to fake COVID-19 mask exemption cards

In April, she was sentenced to seven years behind bars by an Ontario judge, minus time already served. She pleaded guilty to seven offences after being charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, obtaining by false pretense, uttering forged documents, and personation to gain advantage.

In B.C., Cleroux has been charged with fraud over $5,000 and personation to gain advantage in relation to her work with the health authority. She remains the subject of multiple investigations by Vancouver police.

In its response, the health agency said it never knew she was an imposter, “nor should it have known,” and that it took “all reasonable steps” to review her suitability for the role and oversee her work.

The allegations in the class action case have not yet been tested in court.

Story continues below advertisement

Cleroux is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver provincial court on June 23.

Sponsored content