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College of Nurses reviewing recommendations on sexual abuse

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) recognizes the grievous harm and lasting effect sexual abuse by a nurse can have on a patient. When receiving care from a nurse, you should expect that they'll be professional, respectful, knowledgeable, skillful and ethical. Sexual relations between a nurse and patient are always unethical, abusive and a serious breach of trust. At CNO, we continually seek ways to improve how we can act sensitively, respectfully, fairly and quickly to complaints of any such misconduct by a nurse.

“CNO exists for one primary reason: to ensure Ontarians receive safe nursing,” says Anne Coghlan, Executive Director and CEO of CNO. “We are committed to ensuring each complaint of sexual abuse of a patient receives a high priority investigation and, as they participate in this process, to giving sensitive and respectful support to those who have been abused.”

We have received the recommendations of the Minister's Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and are reviewing them thoroughly. We look forward to working with government on the task force’s recommendations and are committed to continuing to do what is needed to eliminate all such abuse.

In 2015, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, asked all Ontario health regulatory colleges to provide the task force with information about the status of  measures for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse of patients. You can read CNO’s response, in which we recommended improvements to funding for victims and assistance with the discipline process.

For additional information on sexual abuse, including what to do if you suspect sexual abuse by a nurse, please see www.cno.org/en/sexual-abuse/

The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) defines sexual abuse of a patient by a member to mean: sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the member and the patient, touching, of a sexual nature, of the patient by the member, or behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by the member towards the patient.

Page last reviewed September 09, 2016