June 2017

Strengthening patient protection in Ontario

On May 30, 2017, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Patients Act, 2017.

It resulted in the following changes to the Regulated Health Professionals Act, 1991 (RHPA), in response to the recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s Sexual Abuse Task Force:

Fines increased for failing to report
Employers or health care professionals who fail to report an allegation of sexual abuse will now face increased fines. We will be regularly reminding employers and members of their obligation to report, and when appropriate, will notify the Ministry if we become aware of a failure to report.

Additional information on the public Register, Find a Nurse
The College already posts on Find a Nurse most of what the RHPA requires. Now, we will also include information about whether a member is registered in other professions. As well, when a College discipline hearing results in no finding of professional misconduct or incompetence, the outcome will be posted on Find a Nurse for 90 days. Some information, such as oral cautions or if a nurse is required to complete education or other remedial activities, will now appear on the Register permanently.

The College can order an interim suspension earlier in the process
If it is determined that a member’s conduct or physical or mental state is likely to expose patients to harm or injury, the College can suspend the member or restrict the member’s practice. With the changes to the RHPA, the College can now do this earlier in the process than it could do before. In addition, there is now an expanded list of acts of sexual abuse that will result in a mandatory revocation of a nurse’s registration.

Government access to personal health information
To determine if the College is fulfilling its duties or if action is required (such as changing a regulation or appointing a supervisor), the Minister may ask the College to provide information. This information could include personal health details about a nurse.

We have adjusted our processes to implement these changes.

Future changes
A number of changes will be implemented at a later date that the Minister will identify. These include:

  • with respect to sexual abuse, expanding the timeframe for which a person is considered a patient to include:

    • the time the person was in the direct care of the member, and

    • one year after the patient relationship is terminated

  • making victims of sexual abuse eligible to receive funding for therapy and counselling as soon as they file a complaint or a report is received, instead of having to wait until a discipline panel makes a finding against the health professional

  • giving the Minister more control over the composition of colleges’ statutory committees and the qualifications of members

The College will continue to offer expertise to the Ministry as it reviews further potential changes.

The College’s guide, Addressing Complaints at the College of Nurses of Ontario, provides information for members of the public who want to make a complaint about a nurse’s conduct.

Mandatory Reporting provides information for employers, facility operators and nurses, who have an obligation to report incidents of sexual abuse, incompetence or incapacity.

For more information about maintaining professional boundaries, read Therapeutic Nurse Client Relationship.


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