Association calls for public inquiry into murders committed by former LTC nurse

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A Canadian nursing association is calling for a deeper inquiry into the case of eight long-term care residents killed by a former nurse.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, pled guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two charges of assault. Wettlaufer told the court she used lethal doses of insulin to kill eight residents and seriously harm several others after feeling angry over her job and life, according to local reports.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, representing the province where Wettlaufer worked and committed the crimes, released a statement Friday saying its members “share the outrage about this gross violation of the most sacred principle of our profession — the commitment entrusted in us to ensure the wellbeing of patients and their families.”

RNAO also used the statement to call for a public inquiry into the residents' deaths, saying it wants “no stone unturned in this effort.” 

Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, Ph.D., the CEO of the association, told McKnight's the group's inquiry will hopefully "put the puzzle together" on the Wettlaufer case and help "prevent such a tragic turn of events" from happening again. The inquiry will also look into Wettlaufer's previous jobs and reference checks.

"This is not to put blame on the employer or the colleagues or on families or on anybody," Grinspun said. "From an association perspective that's not what we're after. We are really after understanding, 'How did we get to the extent of this without catching this way before, and were there alarm bells that went off that were not answered?'"

Wettlaufer is expected to be sentenced in late June.