Kingston hospital fires employee over forged nursing credentials
KHSC understands 'stress and anxiety this news may cause for our patients,' says CEO
Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is investigating after it fired an employee whom the hospital says provided "extensive forged documentation" in order to work as a registered nurse for six months.
Staff estimate the individual worked with roughly 200 patients before being found out, said Dr. David Pichora, the hospital's CEO, during a media conference Wednesday afternoon.
Pichora declined to answer questions about the employee's identity or what medical training they may have had, saying only that the person was not a new hire and had worked for the hospital previously, though not in a nursing role.
Pichora said the employee was caught during a routine check, adding the review uncovered a variety of forged documents "from emails pertaining to education and certification, diplomas, degrees and college registration."
A KHSC spokesperson said this is the first time the hospital has encountered such a situation.
Kingston Police investigating
Kingston police confirmed the service is aware of the incident and said the Criminal Investigations Unit is investigating.
In a statement to CBC the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) said it has tools to confirm the registration status of anyone claiming to be a nurse.
"Employers have an obligation to confirm that nurses they employ directly or through an agency are entitled to [practise] nursing," it added.
Pichora said KHSC usually checks registration at the time of hiring, adding it's possible human error was involved in this case.
The hospital is looking into whether the individual's previous employment at the hospital played a role in the hiring process, as well as possible gaps in the system.
The former employee worked mainly in the post-surgical unit at Kingston General Hospital between July 22, 2022, and Jan. 17, according to the hospital.
KHSC said they also spent some time on other units between Dec. 1, 2022, and Jan. 27, including the admission and transfer unit, Davies 5, Johnson 3, Connell 3, 9 and 10 and Kidd 3, 4, 5 and 9.
Could cause 'stress and anxiety'
The hospital's investigation will focus on the potential impact on patients and their families, adding staff are in the process of contacting those who came in contact with the former employee.
Pichora said registered letters were sent to patients on Wednesday.
"We understand the stress and anxiety this news may cause for our patients and other KHSC staff," he stated in a media release.
Sandra Carlton, KHSC's chief human resources officer, said the hospital is reviewing its hiring process for gaps to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen again.
"While we believe this is a truly unique scenario, we will use this as an opportunity to strengthen our processes to the fullest extent possible to ensure it will not happen again," she said.
Patients with concerns are asked to contact KHSC's Patient Relations team by email or by calling (613) 549-6666, Ext. 4158.