Skip to content

B.C. nurse disciplined for breaching multiple patients' privacy

Nurse breached multiple patients' privacy almost immediately after discussing the issue with union, managers.
A nurse has been suspended four months for breaches patient privacy.

A B.C. nurse who breached patients' privacy immediately after having taken courses on the same issue has been suspended and ordered to pay $4,451 in college investigation costs for her behaviour.

In a Sept. 20 decision, the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives said Laura Atcheson committed professional misconduct.

It said she completed Interior Health’s annual information privacy and security training three times: on Sept.15, 2015, June 7, 2016, and May 22, 2017.

Nevertheless, the discipline notice said, on six occasions between September 2016 and September  2017 she inappropriately accessed the medical files of seven patients.

The decision said each instance of record access took place after Atcheson had received at least one privacy training session.

The decision said Atcheson had a “wanton disregard for patient privacy.”

It said Atcheson had accessed three patients' records almost immediately after having discussed the issue with her union representative, a human resources representative, and her acting manager on March 14, 2017.

“Despite this meeting, and retaking Interior Health’s annual privacy training on May 22, 2017, the respondent subsequently breached the privacy of patients LT, JB, GB, and IP,” the decision said.

“The respondent allowed her curiosity to overcome respect for patients’ right to privacy,” the decision said.

The college argued Atcheson was untruthful and has not taken accountability for her actions.

“The college submits (Atcheson’s) lack of accountability and truthfulness is an aggravating factor that calls into question her ability to engage in self-regulation,” stated the public notice.

However, the discipline panel said Atcheson’s admission of her behaviour shows some acceptance of responsibility.

The panel said it's important public trust in the health-care system is maintained.

“Since the provision of care cannot properly function without trust, it is imperative that the trust is not broken. When trust is broken by an individual registrant, it risks affecting the reputation of the nursing profession and the health-care system as a whole,” the decision said.

Atcheson was ordered to take remedial privacy courses and suspended for four months.