Seven women who say a serial impostor posing as a nurse caused them “excruciating” pain, exposed them to infections, injured them or personally insulted them have all filed lawsuits alleging negligence by the operators of the Vancouver hospital where Brigitte Cleroux worked for several years. year.
The seven new claims, filed last week in BC’s Supreme Court, also raise concerns that Cleroux, who never completed nursing school or held a valid license, gained access to the patients’ personal information and medical records. . They say this left them vulnerable to fraud and identity theft by someone with a long history of similar crimes.
The lawsuits each name 52-year-old Cleroux, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) as defendants, alleging that both the health authority and the college are vicariously liable for physical pain and psychological suffering. caused by Cleroux’s actions during gynecological operations at BC Women’s Hospital.
None of the allegations in the claims have been proven in court and no responses to the lawsuits have been filed.
Cleroux is imprisoned in Ontario and awaits trial in Vancouver
Spokesmen for the PHSA, which runs the hospital, and BCCNM, which regulates BC nursing, both said they could not comment while the case is before the courts.
Cleroux’s criminal defense attorney, Chris Johnson, told CBC that he and his client were unaware of the new lawsuits and therefore could not comment.
Cleroux is currently in prison in Ontario, serving a seven-year sentence for crimes including impersonation, assault with a weapon and assault related to her time posing as a nurse at a fertility clinic and dental clinic in Ottawa in 2021.
She awaits trial in Vancouver on 17 criminal charges related to her time at BC Women’s Hospital between June 2020 and June 2021, including charges of assault against 10 patients.
She has also been charged with impersonation and fraud in Surrey, BC where she is charged with defrauding a local dental surgeon in 2020.
CBC has confirmed that Cleroux has occurred a nurse at a private clinic in Victoria and at one nursing home in Vancouver also during her time in BC, although she has not been charged with any crimes related to those positions.
In all, Cleroux has accumulated at least 67 criminal convictions as an adult. She has been charged or convicted of pretending to be a nurse in Colorado, Ontario, Alberta and BC, and has posed as a teacher in Alberta and Quebec.
Warnings from a ‘problem nurse’
The new lawsuits outline a series of alleged misconduct by Cleroux that the seven women say left lasting psychological damage, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and mistrust of health care.
They include allegations that Cleroux improperly administered pain medication during surgery, leaving three patients in such “excruciating pain” that their doctors reportedly had to interrupt or even cancel their procedures. Four patients claim that Cleroux sent them home with inadequate medication that left them in severe pain for days after surgery.
A woman’s claim describes Cleroux making “numerous harmful and disparaging comments” about her fertility problems and her ability to care for a child. Those insults, the lawsuit alleges, caused the patient to postpone her plans for an embryo transfer.
Another patient’s civil claim notice alleges that Cleroux caused her “unnecessary and excruciating levels of discomfort and pain” and put her at risk of infection during the failed insertion of a pre-surgery IV line in October 2020.
Her claim describes Cleroux as hostile and dismissive, claiming that after several failed attempts to insert a needle into her arm “the claimant was treated in an aggressive manner, using her knees and body weight to restrain her, causing the plaintiff became fearful for her safety.”
Cleroux cut the patient’s artery during the struggle, the claim claims, causing her to lose blood. Finally, another nurse had to insert the IV.
The patient claims she was later approached by two hospital employees who describe Cleroux as a “problem nurse.”
The day after surgery, the same patient claims she received a call from the hospital advising her to get an HIV test because Cleroux had also been pricked by a needle as she struggled to insert the IV.
Yet another patient claims that an improperly inserted IV damaged her nerves or blood vessels and continues to cause pain and weakness years later.
Each of the patients alleges battery, privacy violations and negligence.
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Cleroux is also the subject of a proposed class action lawsuit brought by patients at BC Women’s Hospital.
PHSA filings in that case revealed that she was involved in the treatment of 899 patients during her hospital stay.
The health authority has said that Cleroux used the name of a real nurse, Melanie Smith, when she applied for work at BC Women’s, but told administrators she did not yet have a registration number because she had recently transferred from Ontario.
Documents filed by PHSA show that because of Cleroux’s deception, the health authority is now confirming both the name and license of every nurse she employs.
Cleroux’s next appearance in criminal court is scheduled for June 21 in Vancouver.