Professional Conduct Process

Introduction

The Professional Conduct Process of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia (CLPNNS) is initiated when a signed letter of complaint against an active member is received at CLPNNS.  The complainant (the person who laid the complaint) is notified by letter of the receipt their complaint. They are provided an outline of the Professional Conduct Process and notified that an investigation will commence.  The respondent (the person against whom a complaint is laid) is notified by letter that the College has received a complaint against them. They are informed that an investigation into the complaint will be conducted. The letter of notification to the respondent also contains a copy of the letter of complaint, LPN Act, Regulations and an outline of the Professional Conduct Process. Click to view the Professional Conduct Process Algorithm.

Complaints

Once the above information is forwarded to the complainant and respondent, the investigation process begins. An investigator interviews the complainant and any other persons (witnesses) who may have knowledge relevant to the complaint. The investigator also obtains any documentation or information relevant to the complaint. The investigation is carried out in an impartial manner. All relevant information is collected whether it supports or does not support the complaint.  All relevant information given or collected as part of the investigation process, is potentially disclosable to the respondent.

When the investigation is complete, the investigator prepares an investigative report. This report contains relevant interview summaries and supporting documents. This report is sent to the respondent.  The respondent is invited to respond to the investigative report, either verbally or in writing, within 30 days.

Once the 30 day period has passed, the investigative report and response from the respondent, if available, is forwarded to the Complaints Committee for review. (The Complaints Committee consists of a minimum of three members including at least one practicing LPN and one public representative).

All information/documents obtained from the complainant, witnesses and respondent during this process remain the property of the College and is to be kept confidential by all parties and only disclosed in accordance with College policy.

Once the members of the Complaints Committee receive the documents, they meet to address of the complaint.  The Complaints Committee shall provide the complainant and respondent the opportunity to appear before the Committee to make representations and answer any questions the Committee may have. (If the complaint in informally resolved or dismissed in accordance with Section 29(1)(a) to (c) of the LPN Regulations, there is no offer of meeting before the committee.) When this opportunity is provided, the complainant appears before the Committee followed by the respondent .

After reviewing all information it has received, the Complaints Committee can:

  • informally resolve the complaint;
  • dismiss the complaint;
  • counsel the respondent;
  • caution the respondent;
  • counsel and caution the respondent;
  • issue a reprimand, with the consent of the respondent; or
  • refer the matter to a Professional Conduct Committee for a formal hearing.
    (A Professional Conduct Committee usually consists of three members of the Board including a public representative and a active practicing Licensed Practical Nurse).

Informal Resolution: The issue is addressed by the parties at hand without using formal College processes. This may be considered in cases where all interested parties, the complainant, the respondent, the College and the Complaints Committee believe addressing the complaint through such a resolution is appropriate. Any one of the interested parties can approach the other parties to suggest such a resolution.

Dismissal: The Complaints Committee can dismiss a complaint if it lacks value or merit. If a complaint is dismissed, there will be no further action on this file.

Counsel: A determination that the respondent could benefit from professional guidance from CLPNNS with regard to the subject matter of the complaint in circumstances that do not constitute professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity. A counsel is not considered disciplinary action.

Caution: A finding that the respondent has breached the standards of practice or code of ethics, but in circumstances where such breach does not constitute professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity. A caution is not considered disciplinary action.

The Complaints Committee can issue both a counsel and caution for the same issue.

Reprimand:  A reprimand is a disciplinary finding and requires the consent of the respondent. A reprimand considered the same if issued by Complaints Committee or Professional Conduct Committee. When a respondent consents to a reprimand, the disciplinary actions becomes part of their permanent record at CLPNNS.  If a respondent not consent to a reprimand, the matter is forwarded to a Professional Conduct Committee for a formal hearing.

Assessments: The Complaints Committee can mandate a respondent to submit to physical, mental and/or practice assessments by qualified individuals and to have the reports form such assessment sent back to them for review. The Committee can use this information in the management of the complaint. Failure to comply with a request for an assessment of this kind may result in a suspension of the respondent’s license to practice nursing until such time as the requested records are produced.

Suspension: A Complaints Committee can request the executive director to suspend a license to practice nursing at any time throughout the investigative process. This is done in cases where the Complaints Committee has concerns with respect to safety to practice. The Executive Director suspend the license and notifies the respondent of the suspension until such time as a Complaints Committee or a Professional Conduct Committee directs otherwise.

Professional Conduct

Settlement Proposal : A settlement proposal is  a formal agreement of action. A Settlement Proposal may be tendered in writing – by the respondent to CLPNNS or CLPNNS to the respondent – at any time prior to a formal hearing  A Settlement Proposal must be agreed upon by both of these parties. If such agreement is reached, the Settlement Proposal is forwarded to the Complaints Committee who can accept, reject or suggest amendments to the Settlement Proposal.

If the Complaints Committee accepts the Settlement Proposal, it is forwarded to the Professional Conduct Committee for their review. This committee can accept, reject or suggest amendments to the Settlement Proposal. If the Professional Conduct Committee accepts the proposal, it becomes part of the order of the Discipline Committee and no formal hearing will be held into the matter as long as the respondent complies with such order.  A Settlement Proposal is a disciplinary finding an is added to the respondent’s permanent record.

If the Settlement Proposal is rejected by either committee, the matter is forwarded to a Professional Conduct Committee for a formal hearing. Further information on Settlement Proposals can be found under Section 39 of the LPN Regulations.

Formal Hearing : A formal hearing is meeting where the evidence is given before a committee. When a matter is forwarded by a Complaints Committee to a Professional Conduct Committee, in the absence of a  Settlement Proposal, a formal Professional Conduct hearing is held. At this hearing evidence is given before the Professional Conduct Committee.

The Professional Conduct Committee reviews the evidence and makes a determination as to whether one or more of the charges have been proven and, if so, whether such proof amounts to a finding of professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity. If the Committee makes one or more of the above findings, they  must decide on appropriate action. They can do one or more of the following:

  • issue a reprimand;
  • restrict a license;
  • put conditions on a license;
  • mandate remedial action;
  • suspend a license;
  • revoke a license;
  • publish their findings and inform persons of their findings, as considered appropriate; or
  • carry out any combination of the above.

If the Professional Conduct Committee finds the evidence does not support any of the charges, the Committee can dismiss the complaint.

In the event, the respondent wishes to appeal on any point of law from the findings of the Professional Conduct Committee, a party may do so not later than 30 days after service of the decision.

NOTE

More information on the Professional Conduct Process can be found in the Licensed Practical Nurses Act, Regulations and Professional Conduct Policies. In the event there is any conflict between this overview and the LPN Act, Regulations and Policies, the latter shall prevail. If you have any questions after reading this information, please call (902) 423-8517.