Lawyers For Nurses
How we help nurses
We are lawyers for Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners. We represent nursing professionals charged with criminal offences and nursing professionals facing allegations of professional misconduct, including complaints, reports, and disciplinary proceedings before the College of Nurses of Ontario (“CNO”).
We defend nurses charged with criminal offences under the Criminal Code and other statues like the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Provincial Offences Act, Competition Act and many others.
Our criminal practice includes defending charges like criminal negligence causing death, failing to provide the necessaries of life, fraud, theft, drug trafficking and possession, and sexual assault.
We have experience representing many clients who are professionals, like Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners, and understand the unique circumstances that may be at play.
College of Nurses of Ontario proceedings
Who can make complaints against a nurse?
Patients and their family members can make a complaint about a nurse’s practice or conduct. The CNO will notify the nurse of the complaint.
A complaint may be resolved through an alternative dispute resolution process. However, alternative dispute resolution is only possible if all parties involved agree to it. With alternative dispute resolution, a facilitator from CNO talks to both the nurse and the complainant separately. They discuss the complaint and ideas for resolving it. Ultimately, the facilitator drafts a resolution agreement that all parties sign. The dispute resolution agreement is not published and the process is confidential.
Complaints that cannot be dealt with through alternative dispute resolution go through the investigation process. The investigator’s role is to gather information about the issues raised by the complainant. The investigator will interview the complainant and may interview other witnesses and compile documents related to the complaint, such as health records. Once all information is gathered, the investigator will ask the nurse to respond to the complaint. The nurse will have 30 days to provide a written response. Once received, the investigator may do further investigation if needed, then provide the results to the nurse involved. The matter is then scheduled for a review by the panel of the Inquires, Complaints and Reports Committee (“ICRC”).
The ICRC reviews all information gathered by the investigator. If the information gathered does not support the complaint, the ICRC will not take any action. However, if the information gathered does support the complaint, the ICRC will consider the seriousness of the issues and any previous decisions made by the College involving the nurse. Based on those considerations, the ICRC will decide how to address the nurse’s conduct. The ICRC may decide to:
- Take no action;
- Issue advice;
- Require the nurse attend in-person for a formal caution;
- Require the nurse to complete a Remediation Program; and
- Refer some or all of the issues in the complaint to the Discipline Committee.
- The nurse and complainant will each receive a copy of the ICRC’s decision and its reasons.
Both the nurse and complainant can request that the ICRC’s decision be reviewed by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (the “Board”). The Board is an independent body that is mandated to conduct reviews of the ICRC’s decisions.
What happens at discipline hearings?
If a complaint is referred to the Discipline Committee, the Committee will hold a public hearing. The process is similar to how a court of law operates. The Committee Panel has a similar role to that of a judge and the complainant may testify. After a hearing, the Discipline Committee can impose a penalty which may include:
- Requiring the nurse to complete remedial education;
- Requiring the nurse to appear in-person for a reprimand;
- Requiring the nurse to pay a fine to the Ontario Government;
- Placing conditions and limits on a nurse’s practice;
- Suspending the nurse’s license for a specified time period; and
- Revoking a nurse’s membership in the College.
While nurses are not required to be represented by legal counsel, given the seriousness and complexity of discipline hearings, it is prudent to consider retaining a lawyer who has experience with professional regulation matters.
Contact us about your case
Please leave us the best number to call and we will reach out to you as soon as possible.
116 Simcoe Street, Suite 100