The Alberta Public Interest Commissioner concludes an investigation into allegations of medical mistreatment of seven individuals incarcerated in a provincial correctional centre.
The identity and confidentiality of public sector employees wishing to report wrongdoing remains protected under Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act.
A whistleblower, concerned for the health and safety of individuals incarcerated in a correctional centre, made a complaint to the Public Interest Commissioner alleging that medical staff were failing to provide emergency care to patients in medical distress.
As detailed in the report, the Commissioner’s office examined the medical records and treatment history of the seven individuals to assess allegations of inadequate health care resulting in severe medical outcomes. To lend medical expertise, a nursing consultant was retained to review the patients’ medical records and provide an opinion on whether medical staff met the standard of care expected for nurses in a correctional environment in these instances.
In several examples, evidence showed standards of care were not met, pain management and drug withdrawal protocols were not followed, and gaps existed in the documentation of key patient vital signs records. The investigation determined a substantial and specific danger to the life, health, or safety of individuals – a serious wrongdoing under the Act.
“Based on the expert report of the nursing consultant, I found that for five of the individuals identified by the whistleblower, medical staff did not provide treatment that met the requisite standard of care. Had a whistleblower not come forward to bring these serious lapses to light, the opportunity for improvement may have been missed and more patients may have found themselves at risk.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) holds a significant responsibility to provide patients in correctional facilities with the best possible medical care. I am encouraged by the organization’s commitment to improve the systemic issues identified in the investigation and focus on implementation of my recommendations.”
Kevin Brezinski, Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner
The Public Interest Commissioner’s report— is here.
As an independent Officer of the Legislature, the Alberta Public Interest Commissioner provides a safe avenue for public sector employees to submit complaints of wrongdoing or reprisal occurring in their workplace. Under Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act), the Commissioner conducts independent, impartial and procedurally fair investigations into allegations made by whistleblowers.
Alberta Health Services employees are entitled to the protection provisions of the Act when making a disclosure of wrongdoing.
The Public Interest Commissioner is also the Alberta Ombudsman acting under the Ombudsman Act to respond to complaints of unfair treatment by provincial government authorities, municipalities, the Patient Concerns Resolution Process of Alberta Health Services, health professions and other designated professional organizations.
More about the role of Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner:
Information for public sector employees and the protections to which they are entitled:
Outreach and Engagement Lead
Alberta Ombudsman / Alberta Public Interest Commissioner