Nurse who vented about relative's care on social media found guilty of professional misconduct

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A Canadian nurse who took to social media to air her frustrations over a relative's skilled nursing care has been found guilty of professional misconduct by a nursing organization.

Carolyn Strom, a registered nurse in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, posted on Facebook and Twitter in February 2015 to express concerns with the care her grandfather received at an Saskatchewan skilled nursing facility prior to his death. Strom, who did not work at the facility, advised the management to “get all your staff a refresher” on end-of-life care, CBC News reported on Saturday.

“Don't get me wrong, 'some' people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa's last years less than desirable, please do better next time," she wrote.

Staff at the facility saw the posts and found them to be “humiliating,” according to CBC News. They filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association, arguing that Strom acted unprofessionally.

The SRNA's discipline committee found Strom guilty of professional misconduct following an investigation. While the posts were “motivated by perhaps grief and anger,” Strom was still “bound to act with integrity,” the committee said in its decision.

“The Discipline Committee does not seek to ‘muzzle' registered nurses from using social media,” the committee wrote. “However, registered nurses must conduct themselves professionally and with care when communicating on social media.”

The committee said it would meet to consider Strom's penalty at a later date. A petition has been filed urging SRNA to reverse the guilty verdict and develop clear social media policies.

“This precedent-setting decision is enough to send a chill down the spine of every nurse and nursing student in Canada,” the petition reads. “Not only is it a blatant attack on free speech, but it raises serious concerns about ...  the dangers of silencing nurses even when they witness subpar care.”