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BC’s opioid overdose crisis and nurses: is my licence at risk?

Practising in challenging situations

posted Jan. 10​, 2017

British Columbia is currently experiencing a public health crisis unlike any we have seen before. This is an unprecedented time whereby health authorities and nurses are working in non-traditional ways with other health care providers, first responders, service groups, non-profit organizations, volunteers and others to provide overdose prevention services.

We commend the efforts of nurses who are working in the best interests of clients to prevent morbidity and mortality in theses complex and changing situations. We recognize that some of methods and approaches to service provision are uncharted. Nurses continue to be exemplary role models, thinking creatively and acting professionally and ethically under such extenuating circumstances.

This crisis may be prolonged and continue to worsen; as these overdose prevention services are being established across our province, in any place there is a need, we are being asked by nurses, “Is my licence at risk if I provide nursing care in these sites and conditions that can be less than ideal?”

Principle-based approach

In this type of situation it is very unlikely that you would be reported to CRNBC. It’s important to remember that even in situations where nurses cannot provide optimal client care, they can still meet the Professional Standards. These situations are usually beyond a nurse’s individual control and often require a systems approach for resolution.

In order for CRNBC to become involved, a formal written complaint must be received, describing how a nurse’s unethical, impaired or incompetent practice puts clients’ at risk.

As a nurse, you are responsible for providing the best nursing care possible under the circumstances, setting priorities, using your critical thinking and professional judgement, and participating in efforts to improve clinical care.

Resources for nurses

Need help?

CRNBC regulatory practice consultants available to respond to, speak or meet with you if you have any questions that the College can assist you with. Reach us at

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