A recent case examines the tragic consequences of professional malpractice.

A nurse with over 35 years of experience committed professional malpractice before an Atikamekw baby died in April 2022. CBC reported that the nurse’s mistakes were primarily linked to neglectful medical records management and that the nurse had already received verbal notices and an official letter or reprimand for her failure to document medical procedures in the past. She received a disciplinary letter as well. 

Radio-Canada’s Espaces autochthones obtained a report looking into the baby’s death which indicated that the nurse had failed to document consultations as well as physical examinations that were conducted. This caused her to omit important information regarding the infant’s medical condition. 

 Nursing documentation is critical as it provides evidence of care which ensures continuity. The nurse worked with the Atikamekw community in Manawan for three years and was suspended after the events. 

 On April 4, 2022, the baby girl died in Montreal at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine, due to complications of meningitis and COVID-19. The child was first diagnosed as having a fever from teething at the community health center. 

After her condition worsened, the infant’s parents sought emergency care which took eight and a half hours after the call for an ambulance to transport her. The coroner determined that the baby died of bacterial meningitis following the delayed emergency treatment. 

One of the coroner’s recommendations included implementing medical evacuation services by helicopter for patients in remote regions in critical condition.

The health center investigation was focused on the nurse’s work who had first taken care of the baby, prior to her transportation to the hospital. The investigation found that the nurse violated multiple articles of the nurses code of ethics and that she had committed professional misconduct. 

The nurse allegedly took note of a medical consultation after a phone call with an external doctor on duty regarding the baby’s condition. However, the report stated that the note was written after the baby died. 

According to the report, this demonstrated that the nurse failed to take the necessary measures to ensure the continuity of care. At one point, the investigation also found that the nurse did not call an on-call physician, instead, she texted him to inform him of the child’s condition. The nurse did not receive a reply from the doctor. 

It is also alleged that the nurse made false statements during the investigation, and the committee believes that this points to her lack of transparency and honesty. 

The nurse was already being monitored for breach of duties. In February 2022, the nurse received a disciplinary letter regarding incidents of professional negligence in the management of medical records. She was then required to take online training and complete an online self-assessment, which the health centre says they have no proof of completion. 

The infant’s case was supposedly submitted to the Order of Nurses of Quebec (OIIQ) and an investigation is reportedly underway, yet the order does not confirm nor deny this, citing reasons of confidentiality. 


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From CBC News