Complaints regarding the conduct of a Licensed Practical Nurse received by the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) are processed by the framework outlined in Part IV of the Health Professions Act.
A complaint is a written submission alleging that a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) failed to meet CLPNA’s Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, or other legislation which guides the profession.
During COVID-19 pandemic, the CLPNA is taking all appropriate measures to ensure its mandate of protecting the public against unskilled nursing practice and unprofessional conduct continues to be a top priority. Complaints continue to be handled within the timelines specified by the Health Professions Act (HPA) and procedures outlined by CLPNA. For the health and safety of LPNs and the public, the CLPNA is following Alberta Health’s COVID-19 guidelines. Therefore, investigations are now managed remotely (ie. phone or videoconference).
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Upon receipt of the complaint, the Complaints Director will review your complaint to establish whether CLPNA has jurisdiction.
The person making the complaint (Complainant), the employer (if not the Complainant), and the Investigated Member will be contacted by telephone by the Complaints Director to review the complaint and complaint process. Within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the parties will receive an initial letter from the Complaints Director confirming receipt and advising of the investigation into the matter and the assigned investigator.
The Investigated Member will receive a copy of the written complaint. The Investigated Member is entitled to be represented by legal counsel, a union representative, or an agent of their choice.
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During the investigation process, the Complainant and the Investigated Member will be interviewed by the Complaints Director or an appointed investigator. Witnesses with relevant information may be interviewed during the investigation process.
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The CLPNA has the legal authority, under s.63 of the HPA, to collect any information and or relevant documents to the investigation which may include personal information and medical documentation.
Once the investigation is complete, an investigation report is submitted to the Complaints Director for review. The Complaints Director will consider if there is sufficient evidence of “unprofessional conduct” as it is defined in Section 1(1)(pp) of the Health Professions Act. The evidence will be reviewed to determine if the conduct was unprofessional by the display of a lack of knowledge or skill or judgment in the provision of professional services, was in contravention of the HPA, the CLPNA’s Code of Ethics or Standards of Practice, other relevant legislation; or engaged in conduct that harms the integrity of the regulated profession. It will be determined whether to refer the matter to a disciplinary hearing, resolve the complaint by consent resolution or dismiss the complaint.
SUSPENSIONS, CONDITIONS, RESTRICTIONS
Section 65 of the HPA provides that the Complaints Director may make a recommendation to the Executive Officer of the CLPNA or Person Designated by Council that the Investigated Member’s practice permit be suspended or that conditions or restrictions be imposed on an Investigated Member’s practice permit pending completion of the complaints process. This would occur when there is a serious concern regarding the Investigated Member’s competence or ethics and there is a significant risk to the public if the Investigated Member continues to practice.
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During a preliminary investigation of a complaint, it may be determined the conduct may have been a result of incapacity. Incapacity is defined as 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.
Should this occur, the Complaints Director may have grounds to believe an LPN may be “incapacitated” pursuant to s. 118 of the Health Professions Act. The unprofessional conduct would then be managed under s. 118. Despite a suspension of complaint proceedings under s.118, the Complaints Director may at any time direct that the proceedings with respect to the complaint be resumed.
POSSIBLE RESOLUTIONS OF A COMPLAINT
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There are a number of options the Complaints Director may use to resolve a complaint:
- Dismiss the complaint if trivial or vexatious or if there is insufficient or no evidence of unprofessional conduct. If your complaint is dismissed, you may request a review of this decision by the Complaint Review Committee.
- With the consent of the Complaints Director, the Complainant, and the Investigated Member, attempt to resolve the complaint. Examples of a consent resolution could include an Agreement & Undertaking, Mediation or Coaching.
- Refer the complaint to a Disciplinary Hearing in front of a Hearing Tribunal.