A healthcare professional is in a position of power over a patient by virtue of having professional knowledge and skill that a patient must rely on for their well-being. In addition, they have access to patients’ personal health information.
Healthcare professionals must always maintain professional boundaries with their patients. They are prohibited from engaging in any form of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct as defined in the Health Professions Act (HPA).
Sexual Abuse means the threatened, attempted, or actual conduct of a regulated member towards a patient that is of a sexual nature and includes any of the following conduct:
Sexual Misconduct means any incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by a regulated member towards a patient that the regulated member knows or ought reasonably to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to the patient or adversely affect the patient’s health and well-being but does not include sexual abuse.
Each college that regulates a health profession must define who constitutes a “patient” in their standards of practice. For the purposes of the sexual abuse and sexual misconduct provisions in the HPA, the CLPNA considers an individual to be an LPN’s patient while receiving a professional nursing service provided by the LPN and for a minimum of one year from the last day professional nursing services were provided.
Did an LPN do something to make you feel uncomfortable? Maybe they touched you in a way that was not medically necessary or appropriate, or they said something sexually suggestive.
If you believe you have experienced sexual misconduct or sexual abuse by an LPN, we urge you to contact the CLPNA to discuss your concerns at 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta), 780-484-8886, email the CLPNA’s Complaints Department, or Make a Complaint.
Complaints of a sexual nature may involve:
Coming forward about a sexually inappropriate encounter you’ve experienced with a healthcare professional can be incredibly difficult, and there are many reasons why you may choose not to do so. There are, however, good reasons for reporting:
When you call for assistance or to make a complaint to the CLPNA, you will speak to the Complaints Director or a Complaints Officer. The Complaints Director and Complaints Officers have specific training in dealing with sexual abuse or sexual misconduct complaints.
As part of the complaints process, an appointed investigator will ask you to explain what happened as clearly and in as much detail as you can possibly provide. All investigators have received trauma-informed training.
Legislation requires us to notify the healthcare professional of your complaint. We will provide the healthcare professional with a copy of the complaint. The healthcare professional is given the opportunity to respond to it.
Your complaint may be referred to a Hearing Tribunal for a hearing.
You may be asked to testify at the hearing, and you are encouraged to bring someone with you for support. If you must testify, you may be questioned by the legal representatives for the CLPNA, by the healthcare professional, or by the healthcare professional’s representative.
If the Hearing Tribunal finds the allegations of sexual abuse are proven, the healthcare professional’s registration will be cancelled, and they will not be allowed to practice for life. If the Hearing Tribunal finds allegations of sexual misconduct proven, the healthcare professional will be suspended, and timelines for the suspension imposed will depend on the circumstances of the case.
Counselling or therapy is available for patients filing a complaint with the CLPNA alleging sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by a Licensed Practical Nurse. Once your complaint is reviewed, a referral for counselling or therapy is made on your behalf by the Complaints Director. There is no requirement of a finding of unprofessional conduct before a patient is eligible to be referred.
For more information, please contact the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta at 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta), 780-484-8886, or Email the CLPNA’s Complaints Department.
The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services offers numerous resources and information about sexual assault services in Alberta.