British Columbia

B.C. nurse disciplined for failing to care for Indigenous person in emergency room

A former Kelowna, B.C., nurse failed to adequately assess and treat an Indigenous person while working in an emergency room, according to a discipline notice from the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM).

Discipline notice says nurse did not perform any resuscitative measures on unresponsive patient

A photo shows the waiting room of a hospital with nurses blurry in the background.
The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives has disciplined a member for failing to provide adequate care to an Indigenous person at a hospital in Kelowna in 2021. (Shutterstock / Byjeng)

A former nurse from Kelowna, B.C., has been disciplined for failing to adequately assess and treat an Indigenous person while working in an emergency room, according to the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM).

The notice, issued Wednesday, states Katherine Lowe was working as an emergency room nurse in September 2021 when she found an Indigenous person, apparently without a pulse and unresponsive, in the emergency department. 

"Ms. Lowe did not adequately assess or perform any resuscitative measures for them, concluding they were deceased. Further, she did not meet documentation standards related to the said incident," the discipline notice said. 

The notice did not indicate the health outcome of the patient, nor did it state which hospital Lowe had been working in. The BCCNM declined to provide further details.

Lowe has allowed her registration to lapse. Nurses in British Columbia are required to renew their registration annually.

She has agreed to a public reprimand for her breach of several BCCNM professional standards and has agreed to other terms if she ever successfully reapplies for registration in the province.

These include having her registration suspended for two months and taking remedial education in documentation, ethics, and Indigenous cultural safety. 

The incident happened almost a year after a province-wide investigation found racism against Indigenous peoples in B.C.'s health care system is widespread and can be deadly. 

Eighty-four per cent of Indigenous people who participated in the study reported experiencing some form of discrimination in health care. 

Months later, the leaders of several regulatory colleges, including the BCCNM, issued a joint apology to Indigenous people who have experienced racism and discrimination in the health-care system.