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B.C. nurse suspended for having relationship with vulnerable patient

The Chilliwack nurse's romantic and physical relationship with a client breached privacy standards by accessing the client's medical health records. 
A Chilliwack nurse can't practice for 10 years after a romance with a vulnerable patient.

A Chilliwack nurse found by her regulatory body of having had a romantic and physical relationship with a vulnerable client has been barred from nursing for 10 years.

The B.C. College of Nurses & Midwives said on July 11 that it had reached a consent agreement with registered practical nurse Shannon Van Tongeren to deal with egregious breaches of professional and practice standards between August and September 2021

The college said Van Tongeren was in a professional and therapeutic nurse-client relationship with a vulnerable adult.

And, it said, Van Tongeren engaged in a romantic and physical relationship with the client, breached privacy standards by accessing the client's medical health records and acted in an unethical manner by continuing to contact the client after being told to have no further contact with them. 

Van Tongeren voluntarily agreed to a cancellation of her registration and a prohibition on reapplying for registration with the college for a minimum of 10 years. 

The college is one of 18 regulatory bodies empowered under the Health Professions Act to regulate health professions in B.C. It regulates the practice of four distinct professions: nursing, practical nursing, psychiatric nursing and midwifery. 

Similar legislation in other self-regulated areas such as the legal and notary public professions also allows citizens to know about discipline issues in the public interest.

“The inquiry committee is satisfied that the terms will protect the public,” the college said.

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