01/13/2016 11:49 EST

Carolyn Strom, Saskatchewan Nurse, Faces Hearing For Facebook Post About Grandfather's 'Sub-Par Care'

Shutterstock / nevodka

PRINCE ALBERT, Canada — A Saskatchewan registered nurse is being accused of professional misconduct for complaining on social media about the care her grandfather received at a health facility in Macklin, Sask.

However, Carolyn Strom's lawyer says the actions being taken against her are a violation of free speech.

Strom has been notified of a hearing before the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, which also accuses her of violating confidential health information.

The notice says a Facebook post by Strom on Feb. 25, 2015, suggested not everyone at St. Joseph's Health Facility was "up to speed on how to approach end-of-life care'' when her grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died.

In a comment attached to her original post, Strom also referred to "an ongoing struggle with the often sub-par care'' given to her grandparents for many years.

st josephs health facility

St. Joseph's, where Carolyn Strom's grandfather spent a week in palliative care. (Photo: Heartland Health Region)

In the hearing notice, the nurses association accuses Strom of violating the Health Information Protection Act by disclosing her grandparents' health information online.

The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Act classifies professional misconduct as anything that is "contrary to the best interests of the public or nurses or tends to harm the standing of nursing.''

The association also alleges that as a nurse, she failed to take her complaints through proper channels within the healthcare system before going public, and in making such comments damaged the facility's reputation.

'Over zealous prosecution'

Strom's lawyer, Marcus Davies, calls the whole matter "an example of over zealous prosecution'' and a "direct attack on free speech.''

"If you want to take professionals out of any public discussion of the issue, then that will impact lawyers, accountants, engineers, doctors,'' he says. "Everybody in a self-regulated position will be removed from the public discourse on issues that affect that profession. Whose interests are being served by shutting that conversation down?''

Davies says Strom's grandmother supports her granddaughter's comments and does not think her privacy was breached.

"I'm completely shocked that the SRNA would choose to take this matter so far as to take the nurse to a disciplinary hearing at which her life and credibility to practice nursing will be on the line,'' Davies says.

The nurses association did not immediately return calls for an interview.

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses said they do not comment on matters that are under investigation or before a disciplinary committee.


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