For Employers and Health Professionals: The duty to report

The General Duty to Report

The Health Professions Act (sections 32.1 to 32.5) requires employers, regulated health professionals, and hospital administrators to report a health professional to their regulatory body when their practice might constitute a danger to the public. A danger to the public may exist if there is reason to believe a registrant is:

  • not competent to practice; or
  • suffering from a physical or mental ailment, an emotional disturbance or an addiction to alcohol or drugs that impairs their ability to practice.

Regulated health professionals also have a duty to report sexual misconduct.

The Act provides legal immunity to those who comply with this duty to report as long as the report is made in good faith and is based on reasonable and probable grounds.

Failing to comply with the duty to report is a violation of the law. A health professional who breaches this duty may also be subject to disciplinary measures by their regulatory body.

Reporting a fellow health professional, colleague or patient may be an uncomfortable situation; however, the duty to report is a legal obligation that is necessary for the protection of the public.

Please contact CRPNBC if you need help in determining if it is necessary to make a report about a CRPNBC registrant. Making an inquiry (without specifying the name of the registrant) does not automatically turn into a formal report.

Employers

An employer must submit a written report to CRPNBC if both of the following conditions exist:

  1. The employer believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, that the continued practice of a CRPNBC registrant might constitute a danger to the public.
  2. Based on the belief, the employer has terminated the registrant’s employment, or the registrant resigned before the termination could be effected.

Even if these conditions do not exist, an employer may choose to make a voluntary complaint to CRPNBC if they have concerns about unsafe practice or serious professional misconduct by a registrant. However, a complaint to CRPNBC should not take the place of employer obligations to engage in proper orientation, training and progressive discipline where warranted.

Doctors and Hospitals

Medical practitioners and chief administrators of hospitals must submit a written report to CRPNBC if a registrant is unable to practice because they have been admitted to a hospital for:

  • psychiatric care or treatment; or
  • treatment for addiction to alcohol or drugs.

This report must be filed no later than the date of the registrant’s discharge from the hospital, and should include:

  • the diagnosis;
  • particulars of the treatment;
  • prognosis; and
  • an opinion as to whether the registrant is fit to continue practicing.

Doctors may be reluctant to report a patient, but CRPNBC has a process that recognizes that these registrants have health issues that may require treatment and monitoring.

Health Professionals / Colleagues

All regulated health professionals (including RPNs) have a legal, professional, and ethical responsibility to report a CRPNBC registrant whose continued practice might constitute a danger to the public.

Sexual misconduct must also be reported; however, where concerns about sexual misconduct are based on information from a patient, the consent of the patient or their parent/guardian must be obtained before making the report.

It can be a difficult decision to report a colleague. In non-emergency situations of potentially substandard practice, it may be appropriate to speak directly with the registrant for clarification before deciding whether a report is necessary.

The Process

Reports must be submitted in writing to CRPNBC, including the name of the registrant and sufficient details of the concerns.

Since CRPNBC must act on any public protection concerns, it cannot guarantee anonymity when a report is made.

CRPNBC will normally seek further information to verify the concerns. While this is taking place, or afterward, CRPNBC may put safeguards in place that protect the public but are also proportionate to the risk. For example, for someone with a health issue, like an addiction, CRPNBC may obtain the consent of the registrant to become Non-practicing while they undergo treatment. While the primary goal is public protection, an important secondary goal is to enable the registrant to become safe and competent so they can return to practice.

Only in the most extreme cases would the CRPNBC Inquiry Committee exercise the power to order an interim suspension, or to refer the matter to a discipline hearing.

More Information

Information about the duty to report can be found in the following sections of the Health Professions Act:

32.1 Definition for sections 32.2 and 32.3
32.2 Duty to report registrant
32.3 Duty to report respecting hospitalized registrant
32.4 Duty to report sexual misconduct
32.5 Immunity

Registered Psychiatric Nurses should also refer to their practice standard on Duty to Report Under the Health Professions Act.

 

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