Practice Standards set out requirements related to specific aspects of nurses’ practice. They link with other standards, policies and bylaws of the BC College of Nursing Professionals and all legislation relevant to nursing practice.
Nurses1 (in all positions and settings) have a legal and ethical obligation to report incompetent or impaired practice or unethical conduct of
regulated health professionals. It is important for nurses to understand when to report, what to report and how to report, and to know what is legally and ethically required.
In B.C., the
Health Professions Act establishes a legal duty for nurses to report situations in which there is a good reason to believe that a regulated health professional’s practice is impaired or incompetent and may pose a danger to the public (s. 32.2). The
Health Professions Act also requires nurses to report any
sexual misconduct by a regulated health professional. If concerns about sexual misconduct are based on information from a client, nurses must first obtain the client’s (or substitute decision-maker’s) consent before making a report (s. 32.4). The
Health Professions Act protects a nurse who makes a report in good faith from legal liability in circumstances where the nurse has a legal duty to report under the Act.
Under this practice standard, nurses also have an expanded duty to report situations in which they have reason to believe that a regulated health professional’s practice poses a danger to the public because of unethical behaviour or for other reasons.
Nurses may have obligations to report regulated health professionals under other legislation and regulations. The specific legislation or regulation that applies to a nurse’s practice depends on the work setting and the nature of the work.
are suffering from a mental or physical problem, an emotional disturbance, or an addiction to drugs or alcohol that impairs their ability to practise;
have a pattern of incompetent practice that may pose a danger to the public;
have behaved unethically in a way that may pose a danger to the public;
otherwise present a danger to the public.
terminating the regulated health professional’s employment;
revoking, suspending or imposing restrictions on the regulated health professional’s privileges; or
dissolving a partnership or association with the regulated health professional
Is the regulated health professional failing to provide safe, competent and ethical care?
Does the behaviour fail to meet the standards of practice or standards for professional ethics?
Has there been a pattern of questionable behaviour?
Is the regulated health professional unable, or unwilling, to recognize and correct the behaviour?
Have clients been harmed by this behaviour?
Are clients likely to be harmed in future?
Discussing your concerns directly with the regulated health professional;
Documenting a factual description of your concerns including dates, times and a description of what occurred;
Reporting to your manager or supervisor;
Consulting with the appropriate regulatory body.
Contact the appropriate regulatory body to determine what information should be included in your written complaint;
Make your complaint factual; provide details of specific incidents including dates, names and a specific description of what occurred;
Remember that, unless it is specifically part of your job (i.e., as a manager), it is the regulatory body’s job, not yours, to investigate the concern.
Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct includes professional misconduct involving:
but does not include touching, behaviour and remarks by a registrant towards a client that are of a clinical nature appropriate to the service being provided (see BCCNP Bylaws, s. 362(4)).
Regulated Health Professional: “Regulated health professional” refers a registrant of BCCNP or any health profession college under the
Health Professions Act.
Consent practice standard
Duty to Provide Care practice standard
For more information on this or any other practice issue, contact BCCNP’s Practice Support Services by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604.742.6200 or toll-free (Canada only) 1.866.880.7101.
“Nurse” refers to all BCCNP registrants, including: licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed graduate nurses, employed student nurses, and employed student psychiatric nurses.
This duty to report also applies if a nurse intends to take such action but the regulated health professional resigns, relinquishes their privileges, or dissolves their partnership or association before the nurse acts.
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Taking Action on Concerns about Practice
For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us: