The Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) has ordered that Natasha Janzen have her license suspended for eight months and pay a $12,000 fine.
A Saskatoon home care nurse who admitted to stealing powerful opioid drugs from a patient has had her license suspended for eight months and been ordered to pay a $12,000 fine.Natasha Janzen pled guilty this spring to professional misconduct for taking 10 vials of sufentanyl from a patient in her care in May 2017.According to a disciplinary decision published online by the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) this month, Janzen admitted she took the vials, but cannot account for what happened to them. She says she did not consume the drug, sell it or give it away.The disappearance of the vials in 2017 prompted the Saskatoon Police Service to issue a public advisory, warning people that sufentanyl is a powerful drug that can be 10 times stronger than fentanyl and can cause serious injury or death if ingested. No criminal charges were ever laid in relation to the theft.The disciplinary decision says the patient prescribed the drug — referred to as J.P. — was a palliative care patient with multiple health problems. As a result of complications with diabetes, J.P. was missing “a number” of fingers, which resulted in reduced manual dexterity. She also had vision problems. Home care nurses were to attend her home three days a week and preload oral syringes with sufentanyl so J.P. could administer it to herself as needed.Janzen provided nursing services to J.P. for roughly two years, from April 2015 to May 2017, though she was on medical leave for part of this time, from October 2016 to March 2017.Janzen was suspended without pay in June 2017 after a series of incident where she did not return J.P.’s chart to her employer following her shift, she visited J.P. on a day she had called in sick and other nurses saw “discrepancies and irregularities” in her entries on J.P.’s chart.Staff with the Saskatoon Health Region began investigating by reviewing J.P.’s chart, contacting J.P.’s pharmacy and interviewing J.P., who described Janzen as “a friend” who helped her with her dog and running errands.According to the disciplinary decision, Janzen had, on one occasion, picked up J.P.’s medication from the pharmacy, which home care nurses are not allowed to do.While suspended, Janzen called SALPN and asked how she could voluntarily surrender her license. She told the registrar she had been using hydromorphone for some time and felt she was unfit to practice. She surrendered her license around the same time the health region decided to fire her.According to the disciplinary decision, Janzen had been in a motor vehicle accident in 2009 and been taking hydromorphone on and off ever since. She admitted to an investigator that she had a hydromorphone addiction and her lawyer told the discipline committee that Janzen had voluntarily entered a drug rehabilitation program in June 2016. At the time Janzen went through her disciplinary hearing this spring, she was seeing an addictions counsellor and was on the methadone program.She had not practiced since surrendering her licence in July 2017.In deciding what punishment to hand down, the discipline committee made note of mitigating factors, including that Janzen had no prior discipline record, she voluntarily gave up her license and she was committed to rehabilitation. Aggravating factors included that her acts occurred while in a private home when she was under no direct supervision and that she engaged in actions that were specifically prohibited.The committee ordered that Janzen’s license be suspended for eight months and that, before Janzen returns to work, she provides report to the registrar from a physician, addiction counsellor and mental health professional. She also needs to provide three months of drug screen tests showing negative results. Once she resumes nursing, she needs to take courses in ethics and professional boundaries and write a self-reflective essay on how she will ensure professional boundaries are maintained with her patients. For as long as she practices, Janzen is to provide random drug screens to the SALPN registrar whenever requested and not be permitted to work in an environment with access to narcotics, benzodiazepines, opiates or controlled substances.She is to pay a $12,000 fine by July 2021. If she fails to make payment by then, her license will be suspended.According to the disciplinary decision, Janzen’s lawyer said Janzen cannot afford to pay more than $100 a month toward the fine because she is firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/MsAndreaHillRelated