Nurse who chided relative's palliative care on Facebook, Twitter hit with $26,000 fine

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A Canadian nurse who posted concerns about a relative's end-of-life care on social media was fined $26,000 last week by a nursing association.

Carolyn Strom, a registered nurse in Saskatchewan, was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association last year after she vented on Twitter and Facebook about the palliative care her grandfather received at a local skilled nursing facility.

Staff at the facility saw Strom's post — which included a plea for nursing staff to “do better next time” and for facility officials to “get all your staff a refresher” on end-of-life care — and reported her to the SRNA's discipline committee. The committee ruled that while Strom's posts were “motivated by perhaps grief and anger,” she was still “bound to act with integrity.”

Marcus Davies, Strom's lawyer, told CBC News that she plans to appeal the fine within the next week or two. The SRNA requires Strom to pay a $1,000 fine by July 1, and the additional $25,000 — levied to cover the costs of the disciplinary proceedings — over the course of three years.

"If it doesn't apply only to your practice, then your behavior is under scrutiny 24/7 and that's real worrisome for any of us in a profession," Davies said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to gather donations to cover Strom's fine. A Toronto attorney who filed a class action lawsuit against a major Canadian long-term care provider last year has pledged $2,000 toward Strom's fine, telling The National Post that “a nurse has a duty and an obligation to speak out when she sees bad patient care.”

“Every once in awhile, you get someone who is honest and forthright,” attorney Amani Oakley told the newspaper. “The very last thing we want to do is punish those people.”