Registration and Licensure Details

The following may be helpful when reviewing information on this page

Registration Number:
23395
Given Name(s):
CAROLINE VERONICA
Last Name(s):
COLLINS
Register:
Registered Nurses
Category of Licence:
Registered Nurse – Conditional
Active Date:
November 01, 2019
Expiry Date:
October 31, 2020
Essential Information:
1. For a period of two (2) years following the Respondent’s return to nursing practice, if she is employed by any nursing employer other than her current employer or the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the Respondent shall notify the NSCN of this employment forthwith. The Executive Director will provide a copy of the full Decision of the Professional Conduct Committee (including this Settlement Proposal, without attachments) to the new employer(s); and

2. The Respondent shall arrange for her employer to report to NSCN the results of practice audits focused on the Respondent’s access to confidential health information. The audits may include reviews of any inconsistencies between health information reviewed and the patients in the Respondent’s circle of care, inconsistencies in her access to confidential health records relative to other staff, or any other privacy issues the employer may deem appropriate to review. The audits will occur on an unannounced basis, beginning no later than six months after the Respondent’s return to practice as a registered nurse and continuing for a period of two (2) years. Each audit shall cover a period of no less than thirty (30) days. During this two (2) year period, the Respondent’s employer will conduct a minimum of four (4) random audits. Any costs associated with conducting these audits are to be paid by the Respondent. Reports of the results of these audits will be provided by the employer to the NSCN every six months. The Respondent shall not be penalized for any technical errors related to the use and access of personal health information. This condition will remain on the Respondent’s license for two (2) years following her return to practice as a registered nurse.

Decisions and Outcomes

Decision Outcomes:
Condition or restriction, Reprimand, Suspension
Date:
August 23, 2019

The Professional Conduct Committee of the Nova Scotia College of Nursing (NSCN) met on August 23, 2019 to review a settlement agreement proposed jointly by NSCN and Ms. Caroline Collins. The settlement agreement was proposed pursuant to section 79 of the Nursing Act.

Allegations

Ms. Collins admitted the following allegations of professional misconduct:

Breach of Patient Confidentiality: Self

  1. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on five (5) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing her own health care information between May 11, 2014 and February 3, 2015.

Breach of Patient Confidentiality: Family Members

  1. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on eight (8) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client A between August 4, 2012 and March 15, 2015.
  2. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on three (3) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client B between August 3, 2012 and May 28, 2014. 
  3. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on nineteen (19) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client C between June 18, 2012 and November 16, 2014.
  4. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on seven (7) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client D between May 1, 2013 and August 3, 2014.
  5. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on three (3) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client E between July 10, 2012 and July 26, 2013. 
  6. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client F on or about February 23, 2013.
  7. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on four (4) occasions when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client G between November 2, 2013 and February 3, 2015.
  8. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on two (2) occasions when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client H between October 13, 2013 and January 21, 2015 on or about the following dates.
  9. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on two (2) occasions when she breached patient confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client I between August 25, 2012 and February 5, 2013.
  10. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on two (2) occasions when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of a family friend, Client J, between December 27, 2013 and January 18, 2014.
  11. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client K on or about February 24, 2013.

Breach of Patient Confidentiality: Non-family Members

  1. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client L on or about May 16, 2014.
  2. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client M on or about May 16, 2014.
  3. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client N on or about March 19, 2013.
  4. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client O on or about April 20, 2013.
  5. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client P on or about April 11, 2014.
  6. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on one (1) occasion when she breached confidentiality by inappropriately accessing the confidential health information of Client Q on or about November 25, 2014.

Breach of Patient Confidentiality: Accesses made using Ms. Collins’ unique log in credentials

  1. Ms. Collins committed professional misconduct on seventeen (17) occasions by failing to secure her unique log in credentials from unauthorized access and use, resulting in accesses of clients’ confidential health information who were not in Ms. Collins’ circle of care between August 10, 2012 and November 23, 2014.

Background

Ms. Collins worked as a registered nurse on a busy perioperative unit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

On May 1, 2015, Ms. Collins employer sent a letter of complaint to the former College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia setting out allegations that Ms. Collins had breached client confidentiality by inappropriately accessing health records of clients who were not in her circle of care over a period of years.

Following an investigation, which included reviews of three audits undertaken by the employer covering a period of more than two and a half years, the matter was referred to a Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee determined that the matter was serious and referred the matter to the Professional Conduct Committee.

Outcome

As part of the settlement agreement, Ms. Collins admitted the allegations set out above and admitted the allegations amounted to professional misconduct. The Professional Conduct Committee agreed that the admissions amounted to professional misconduct.

Pursuant to section 9(1) of the Regulations to the Nursing Act, the Professional Conduct Committee accepted the settlement agreement including the following disposition:

  1. A reprimand;
  2. A six-week suspension of her license, commencing the date the Settlement Proposal is approved by the Professional Conduct Committee and continuing indefinitely until Ms. Collins satisfies NSCN that she has successfully completed the steps set out in (c) and (d) below;
  3. Ms. Collins will successfully complete, at her own expense, the following two courses offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Ethics in Nursing Practice and Patient Privacy;
  4. Ms. Collins shall complete a reflective essay of approximately 500-750 words, acceptable to the NSCN Professional Conduct Consultant, in which she shall self-reflect upon her obligation to maintain patient privacy, her standards of practice, and the Code of Ethics, as they relate to the issues raised in this complaint;
  5. For a period of two (2) years following Ms. Collins’ return to nursing practice, if she is employed by any nursing employer other than her current employer or the Nova Scotia Health Authority, Ms. Collins shall notify NSCN of this employment forthwith. The CEO & Registrar will provide a copy of the full Decision of the Professional Conduct Committee (including this Settlement Proposal, without attachments) to the new employer(s); and
  6. Ms. Collins shall arrange for her employer to report to NSCN the results of practice audits focused on Ms. Collins’ access to confidential health information. The audits may include reviews of any inconsistencies between health information reviewed and the patients in Ms. Collins’ circle of care, inconsistencies in her access to confidential health records relative to other staff, or any other privacy issues the employer may deem appropriate to review. The audits will occur on an unannounced basis, beginning no later than six months after Ms. Collins’ return to practice as a registered nurse and continuing for a period of two (2) years. Each audit shall cover a period of no less than thirty (30) days. During this two (2) year period, Ms. Collins’ employer will conduct a minimum of four (4) random audits. Any costs associated with conducting these audits are to be paid by Ms. Collins. The employer will provide reports of the audit results to NSCN every six months. Ms. Collins shall not be penalized for any technical errors related to the use and access of personal health information. This condition will remain on Ms. Collins’ license for two (2) years following her return to practice as a registered nurse.