College of Nurses (CNO) Complaint Lawyers
As a regulated professional, having a formal complaint filed with the College can be a stressful and confusing experience. The College of Nurses of Ontario has an obligation to review all complaints and investigate those that are not obviously vexatious. As a result, even the most experienced nurse professional may find themselves being investigated.
Donich Law has experience defending Registered Nurses (RN), Registered Practical Nurses (RPN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP) across Ontario. We have experience defending an array of complaints and have experience with remedial programs, discipline hearings and risk management at the investigation stage.
When a formal complaint is filed with the College, they will review it and determine whether it is vexatious on its face. If it is not, the College will investigate further. The College will appoint and investigator to collect all relevant evidence. Once all relevant information has been collected the College will forward it to the accused nurse for their review. The nurse will then be asked to provide a response to the allegations.
Preparing the response to the allegations is an important part of the complaint process. This is the nurse’s chance to defend themselves and give their side of the story. It is particularly important to consult legal counsel prior to providing any submissions to the College as these submissions may be used against the nurse should the matter be referred to the Discipline Committee.
If you are a Nurse and would like more information on professional misconduct investigations at the College of Nurses in Ontario, click here.
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Defending CNO Complaints and Investigations
Drafting a response to a complaint can be an overwhelming process for a nurse. It can be difficult to know what information to include and what to leave out. Having experienced defence counsel to assist in drafting your response can be invaluable.
When drafting a response to the allegation(s) it is important to address all of the College’s concerns fully and clearly. It may be helpful to address the allegations in chronological order to make the response easy for the investigator to follow. When addressing the allegations, it is also important to be aware of all relevant and applicable legislation. This will allow the nurse to identify any weaknesses in their practice and address those weaknesses moving forward.
Donich Law can assist in drafting this response to ensure the College’s concerns are thoroughly addressed while managing risk. Our Firm has experience defending an array of alleged misconduct including allegations of physical and sexual abuse, documentation errors, medication errors and breaches of privacy.
What Happens After the Nurse Responds to the Complaint?
After the nurse has provided the College with their response to the complaint, the College will review the response and determine how to proceed. Where the College is of the opinion that the nurse may be guilty of misconduct, they may refer to the nurse to the Discipline Committee or may require the nurse participate in a remedial program.
In other cases, the College may determine that no misconduct has occurred and may take no further action against the nurse.
What Happens when a Nurse is Sent to the Discipline Committee?
After reviewing the complaint and evidence gathered through the investigation, the Complaints, Inquiries and Reports Committee will determine whether the matter should be referred to the Discipline Committee.
If a matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, the nurse will be required to appear before the committee for a public hearing. The hearing is similar to a civil trial. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present evidence and make submissions. The Discipline Committee will then determine how to proceed with the matter.
The Committee may choose to impose fines, place restrictions or conditions on the nurse’s license, require the nurse participate in further education, formally reprimand the nurse, or suspend or revoke the nurse’s license.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
Alternative Dispute Resolution is a mediation process that allows a facilitator appointed by the College to work with both the complainant and the nurse to resolve the issue. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may be used where the allegations against the nurse are not particularly serious or cannot be substantiated. ADR is not available where there are allegations of sexual abuse, fraud or dishonesty, or professional misconduct.
Both the impugned nurse and the complainant must willingly agree to participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. If the parties are able to reach an agreement through the process, the agreement must be ratified by the Complaints, Inquiries and Reports Committee. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement the complaint will follow the regular complaint process.