After receiving a written complaint, BCCNM investigates the allegations. The nature of an investigation depends on the allegations. Common investigative steps include:
How BCCNM resolves complaints. Click to enlarge and download PDF.
The nurse or midwife 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 or midwife’s response to the complaint.
Investigations are overseen by the Inquiry Committee, an independent decision-making committee made up of registered nurses and midwives and members of the public.
Investigations are often complex and delays are common while BCCNM seeks relevant information from third parties, such as medical documentation. Investigations may take longer than 12 months to complete. The law requires BCCNM to update complainants on the status of the investigation at certain intervals. Complainants and registrants are encouraged to contact BCCNM with questions during the investigation.
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 or midwives under investigation have an obligation to engage in the information-gathering process. We encourage nurses and midwives to seek legal help for the matter under investigation.
Remember complaints are not uncommon; many professionals need to address complaints in the course of their career.
Your professional obligation is to respond to college communications promptly and honestly.
BCCNM encourages you to seek out support from legal counsel or your union when responding to a complaint. If neither is available, consult with a trusted colleague or friend.
Recognize that it can be stressful to respond to a complaint and can be very helpful to receive the support of an experienced, objective advisor.
BCCNM recommends you provide a written response to the complaint, and further recommends you at least consider the need to address each of the concerns raised in the complaint. The Health Professions Act legislates that you have the legal right and opportunity to provide the Inquiry Committee with any information regarding the matter that you believe the committee should consider. Think about what the committee needs to understand your side of the story and what it should consider when addressing each of the concerns raised.
Be factual and thorough in your response.
Remember the complainant will read your response, as he/she will be provided with a copy of it.
Remember you have professional responsibilities, no matter how difficult the situation may be.
If there are other witnesses to an event complained of, have the witness(es) prepare a factual and thorough account and include it with your response.
Include any supporting documents. Be sure you don't include any confidential information.
If an apology or other explanation of the situation is appropriate and might quickly resolve the situation, consider contacting the complainant directly (if appropriate) or incorporating words of apology into your response. Particularly if you weren’t aware of the problem until you got the complaint, this is your chance to promptly address the complainant’s concerns.
If required under your insurance policy, notify your insurer.
After the necessary information is obtained by BCCNM, the Inquiry Committee reviews the information to determine if the nurse or midwife’s conduct or competence appears unsatisfactory or if the nurse or midwife 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:
request the nurse or midwife agree to complete remedial measures to mitigate any demonstrated risk posed to the public. Measures may include (but are not limited to) education, counselling, health monitoring, supervision in the workplace, or a limit on the type of work the nurse can do; or
By law, the Inquiry Committee cannot impose remedial or disciplinary measures on a nurse or midwife 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 midwives, and the public. Unlike the Inquiry Committee, the Discipline Committee is authorized to make factual findings about the nurse or midwife’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.
Health Professions Act (HPA)
Health Professions Designation and Amalgamation Regulation
Health Professions General Regulation
Nurses (Licensed Practical) Nurse Regulation (LPN)
Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioner Regulation (RN & NP)
Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation (RPN)
Midwives Regulation (RM)