After receiving a written complaint, CRNBC investigates the allegations. The nature of an investigation depends on the allegations. Common investigative steps include:
The nurse is provided with an opportunity to review the evidence and respond to the allegations. This provision is required by law. In most cases, the complainant is then given the opportunity to review and comment on the nurse’s response to the complaint.
Investigations are overseen by the Inquiry Committee, an independent decision-making committee made up of registered nurses and members of the public.
Chart: Here's how CRNBC resolves complaints. [click to enlarge]
Taking part in an investigation is often uncomfortable for all those involved. However, the process is not intended to be punitive. An investigation is a neutral information-gathering process. Nurses under investigation have an obligation to engage in the information-gathering process. We encourage nurses to seek legal help for the matter under investigation.
CNPS beneficiaries who also register for CNPS Supplementary Protection can be eligible for assistance with complaints and disciplinary proceedings before their nursing regulator. CRNBC is not involved in facilitating the purchase of supplementary protection. Registrants must contact CNPS for more information.
Being subject to investigation by CRNBC is integral to the privilege of belonging to a self-regulated profession.
Investigations are often complex and delays are common while CRNBC seeks relevant information from third parties, such as medical documentation. Investigations may take longer than 12 months to complete. The law requires CRNBC to update complainants on the status of the investigation at certain intervals. Complainants and registrants are encouraged to contact CRNBC with questions during the investigation.
After the necessary information is obtained by CRNBC, the Inquiry Committee reviews the information to determine if the nurse’s conduct or competence appears unsatisfactory or if the nurse likely has a health ailment that impairs his/her ability to practise.
Following this review, the Inquiry Committee may take one of the following steps:
By law, the Inquiry Committee cannot impose remedial or disciplinary measures on a nurse or make findings of fact. The matter may be required to proceed to a discipline hearing if:
Inquiry Committee outcomes are subject to review by the Health Professions Review Board.
A discipline hearing is usually a public process in which witness testimony and documented evidence are evaluated by the Discipline Committee. Similar to the Inquiry Committee, the Discipline Committee is an independent decision-making body made up of nurses and the public. Unlike the Inquiry Committee, the Discipline Committee is authorized to make factual findings about the nurse's conduct, competence or health, and impose an appropriate outcome. Outcomes from a disciplinary hearing can range from no further action being taken to suspension or cancellation of registration. Suspension and cancellation of registration is reserved for significant competence and conduct issues.
Discipline Committee decisions are subject to review by the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioner Regulation
Health Professions Act (HPA)