VICTORIA -- A Vancouver Island nurse is facing professional discipline after the B.C. college of nurses found she falsified medical records and removed significant quantities of injectable narcotics from a Campbell River hospital, creating “serious risks to patient safety.”

A disciplinary hearing by the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals found that, over a six-month period in 2017 and 2018, Amanda Parniak falsified records and diverted the powerful painkiller hydromorphone – also known under the brand name Dilaudid – from patients at the North Island Hospital Campbell River.

The disciplinary panel noted that hydromorphone, an opiate five times more potent than morphine, is in demand on the illegal market as heroin users are increasingly concerned that the street-drug supply is tainted with fentanyl.

Pharmacy records and testimony from colleagues indicate there were more than 100 occasions in which the nurse apparently created false requests for hydromorphone for patients, or filled valid requests for painkillers that never reached their intended recipients, sometimes delaying pain relief for patients for hours.

The findings include multiple occasions in which the nurse accessed hydromorphone when she was not on duty, contrary to professional standards and practices. Parniak also accessed the private medical records of people who were not her patients and falsified their medical documents, according to the panel.

The nurse’s actions sometimes caused confusion among hospital staff as they tried to figure out whether patients had received treatment for pain or not.

“The magnitude of Ms. Parniak’s drug diversion and falsification of medical documentation was significant,” the disciplinary board wrote in its decision. “The patients from whom she diverted medication are vulnerable persons. The quantity of medication Ms. Parniak diverted was significant.”

The panel ruled that the nurse’s conduct “represents a pattern of professional misconduct which is disgraceful, dishonourable and unbecoming of a member of the profession,” according to the recently published decision.

“Ms. Parniak’s falsification of patient medical records created serious risks to patient safety and continuity of care,” the panel wrote.

The nurse’s college is now considering written submissions about what penalties and costs should be levied for the misconduct. A spokesperson for the college says Parniak is no longer authorized to work as a nurse in B.C.