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In Ontario, there is a zero-tolerance standard for patient sexual abuse by health care providers. When the Protecting Patients Act, 2017 was passed into law, it introduced several changes to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA)The changes, which include a broader definition of “patient” and how health care regulators handle sexual abuse complaints, strengthens the protection of, and response to patient sexual abuse by health care professionals.

To understand factors surrounding patient sexual abuse by nurses, CNO conducted a research study on professional conduct cases related to sexual abuse. The goal of this study was to identify risks of harm that could lead to sexual abuse and develop strategies to reduce these risks for patients.  Through this study, we learned that education is key prevention. Workplace awareness can help employees recognize the signs that lead to sexual abuse and understand what they can do to help.

As partners in safety, employers have an obligation to educate themselves and their employees to address the potential impact of the harm patient sexual abuse has and safeguard patients’ mental, emotional and physical well-being.

This toolkit provides guidance and resources for facilitators who work with nurses to protect and manage sexual abuse in the health care environment. By recognizing behaviours that may lead to sexual abuse, nurses and employers can act to prevent it.




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Page last reviewed April 13, 2020