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Duty to report: narcotic diversion and substance abuse impairing practice

CRNBC's public  protection mandate and how you can help

CRNBC can only act when we receive a report

CRNBC’s mandate is to serve and protect the public. While CRNBC is empowered to protect patients by controlling the registration privileges of nurses across B.C., we can only act when we have been informed of a problem. For this reason, patient safety is best protected when everyone plays a role in identifying risk.

When are reports to CRNBC about substance abuse mandatory?

A nurse’s employer, and colleagues regulated under the Health Professions Act, must report to the regulator when:

  • There is evidence a nurse has diverted narcotics
  • There are clear and witnessed indicators that a nurse is impaired at work

In addition, the employer must report to the regulator if they terminate a nurse’s employment because they have reason to believe failing to do so might constitute a danger to patients.

CRNBC's authority

CRNBC has the authority to control a nurse’s ability to practise across B.C., when appropriate, based on a careful review of the available evidence. The employer has the authority to control a nurse’s ability to practise in the employment setting. Together, we can ensure that impairment or drug diversion in the workplace is recognized, reported, and intervened in as quickly as possible.

The best way to inform CRNBC of drug diversion or impairment in the workplace is to report your concerns directly to CRNBC. In this way, we can be sure that the reported information is timely, accurate and complete.

In addition to reporting to CRNBC, the appropriate person or office in the organization/Health Authority should already be informed of the matter and taking appropriate action.  

What should I do if I think a nurse might have a substance use disorder?

If you are working with a nurse and have good reason to believe the nurse is diverting narcotics from the workplace, or attending work impaired, you should report the concern and reason for the concern directly to CRNBC and to the nurse’s supervisor.

If you recognize this behaviour in yourself, you require professional help. There are resources available such as your primary care provider, employee assistance program, union, employer’s occupational health nurse or disability management office and mental health/addiction counselors.

If you have questions or would like to speak to a CRNBC staff member, you can email us.

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