Interpretive Document: Fitness to Practice and HPA Definition of “Incapacitated”

As professional nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) have the obligation to ensure one’s own fitness to practice. If a LPN’s ability to perform nursing care safely is impaired, they may not be fit to practice. The Health Professions Act (HPA) does not define fitness to practice but uses the term “incapacitated” to describe circumstances where the fitness to practice of a healthcare professional has been compromised by a physical, mental, or emotional condition or disorder.

Section 1(1)(s) of the HPA reads: “‘incapacitated’ means suffering from a physical, mental or emotional condition or disorder or an addiction to alcohol and drugs as defined in the Pharmacy and Drug Act or other chemicals that impair the ability to provide professional services in a safe and competent manner.” 

The HPA provides a way for the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) to address and manage situations of “incapacitated” for applicants and registrants. These processes are thoroughly explained in the Interpretive Document: Fitness to Practice and HPA Definition of “Incapacitated” recently released by the CLPNA.

This updated interpretive document provides applicants and registrants with information around fitness to practice and “incapacitated” under the HPA for LPNs. It includes the following key pieces of information:

  • how the HPA describes “Incapacitated”,
  • the authority and role of the Registrar to manage incapacity issues of applicants,
  • the authority and role of the Complaints Director to manage incapacity issues of registrants, and
  • the CLPNA management of the information collected.


Interpretive Document: Duty to Report

Policy: Professional Responsibility and Accountability


For more information, please contact:

Email the CLPNA’s Professional Practice Team

Ask CLPNA or call 1-800-661-5877 (toll-free in Alberta), or 780-484-8886.