A registered nurse working at a Vancouver Island hospital displayed “disgraceful” behaviour and committed professional misconduct when she diverted narcotics from the facility for months, a disciplinary committee has ruled.
The British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) recently held a discipline committee hearing, which found that Amanda Parniak committed professional misconduct by diverting injectable hydromorphone intended for patients and falsifying medical records over a six-month period while working at the Campbell River Hospital between 2017 and 2018.
“Ms. Parniak’s conduct, taken in the aggregate, represented a pattern of professional misconduct which is disgraceful, dishonourable and unbecoming of a member of the profession. It is also a marked departure from the conduct which the college expects of its registrants,” a discipline order on the BCCNP’s website reads.
Hydromorphone is a powerful opioid analgesic drug that is used to treat severe pain and is marketed under the brand names Dilaudid or Exalgo. It’s also sold on the street under the name dust, smack or juice.
According to the ruling, there were more than “100 instances” where Parniak would divert hydromorphone intended for patients by falsifying medical documentation or by filling legitimate requests.
“The magnitude of Ms. Parniak’s drug diversion and falsification of medical documentation was significant,” the ruling said. For approximately six months, Ms. Parniak engaged in a pattern of conduct where she falsified medical records and diverted injectable hydromorphone from specific patients.”
In one case, one nurse attempted to sign out hydromorphone from the hospital’s computerized system to provide to a patient who was experiencing pain.
However, the nurse was unable to get the medication because Parniak had signed out the medication earlier in the day even though she was not scheduled to work in the unit where the patient was.
Based on witness testimony included in the ruling, Parniak apparently told the nurse who noticed the withdrawal that she had “taken out the medication on another unit for a different patient” and would contact the “pharmacy and inform them about the mixup.”
Parniak never called the pharmacy and according to the ruling, the patient was able to receive hydromorphone but only after having to wait nearly an hour.
The ruling noted that vulnerable patients were “adversely affected” by Parniak.
“Ms. Parniak’s actions had serious consequences,” the ruling reads. “For example, the patient who complained of pain was delayed in receiving his pain medication and having his condition managed in a timely manner. Another nurse was caring for that patient and Ms. Parniak’s actions caused concern and confusion among several members of the hospital staff in relation to this incident. Ms. Parniak’s falsification of patient medical records created serious risks to patient safety and continuity of care.”
Parniak is no longer a registered nurse, according to the ruling.
The British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals’ discipline committee will now deliberate on a final penalty and costs.
The full ruling can be viewed here.