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CNO clarifies why it cannot disclose confidential information about Elizabeth Wettlaufer
February 17, 2017 — The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) believes it is important to respond to concerns raised in recent media coverage about what information the College is able to provide regarding Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, a former Ontario nurse facing numerous criminal charges.
We understand and appreciate the desire for more information about this case. However as we have indicated to the media, the College is legally prohibited by confidentiality requirements under various laws from disclosing certain information.
More importantly, we are bound by our duty to protect the public, and as such, have a responsibility to not jeopardize, in any way, the integrity of the ongoing criminal proceedings. Limiting the information we disclose is not by choice, nor is it done to protect the profession or the College’s reputation. It is part of our obligation as a regulator responsible for protecting the public interest.
At the request of the police, we provided all of the records we have for Ms Wettlaufer. In addition, the College is conducting its own investigation into Ms Wettlaufer’s professional conduct, which will also be informed by the outcome of any criminal proceedings.
While we cannot discuss the details of this particular case, we can assure you that we will continue to take our mandate to protect the public very seriously. This includes assessing all reports that employers must provide to the College when a nurse is terminated for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity, and taking appropriate action based on the information obtained during this assessment.
Last year, the police charged former Ontario Nurse Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer with eight counts of first-degree murder, and earlier this year added four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Ms Wettlaufer resigned her membership with the College on Sept. 30, 2016, which means she is no longer entitled to practise nursing in Ontario.
All publicly available information on Ms Wettlaufer, including the criminal charges against her and information about her ability to practise in Ontario, is posted on the public register Find a Nurse available on www.cno.org.