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Sexual Abuse Prevention
It is CNO’s role to respond to complaints and reports of sexual abuse by nurses[i]. We investigate each allegation of sexual abuse with a commitment to provide sensitive and respectful support to victims involved in our processes. We created the Sexual Abuse of Patients web page to...
What is sexual abuse?
For nurses and their patients, the term “sexual abuse” has a specific legal meaning defined under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. Sexual abuse of a patient occurs when a nurse: has physical sexual relations with a patient touches a patient in a sexual manner (for example, touching...
Definition of a "Patient"
An individual is considered to be a nurse’s “patient” for a period of one year following the end of the professional nurse-patient relationship.
CNO research on sexual abuse by Ontario nurses
CNO used a risk-based regulation framework to guide the research. Risk-based regulation is a proactive approach in harm prevention. It focuses on public safety by identifying specific and relevant risks of harm, and developing interventions so that future risks do not result in actual harms. We...
In the nurse-patient relationship, nurses hold a position of power by virtue of having: professional knowledge and skills patients rely on for their well-being access to patients' bodies while performing intimate physical exams access to patient’s personal health information a position of...
Not me: Not my colleague
While it may be hard to believe a nurse in your facility could sexually abuse patients, studies show that it can be anyone. Preventing patient sexual abuse includes education and awareness about how the law defines sexual abuse for health care professionals and the behaviours that can lead to...
Boundary violations can lead nurses to sexually abuse patients. By recognizing warning signs in yourself and colleagues, you can stop the behaviour to prevent it from escalating to sexual abuse. Here are some warning signs you should pay attention to: Giving personal contact information to a...
While there are particular vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of patient sexual abuse, realistically all patients are vulnerable and can become victims. Patients who were sexually abused by nurses...
Your well-being matters
Nurses are responsible for maintaining their health. They seek help if their health affects their ability to practice safely[i] Your health can affect the care you provide to your patients. Research shows that physical and emotional fatigue can reduce your cognitive functioning including...
How to support a patient safety culture
Culture in health care settings is key to patient safety. Everyone has a role in creating and nurturing an environment where colleagues feel able to speak up about unsafe practice. How is a patient safety culture environment developed? Leaders create a blame free environment where staff...
Something concerned me. How do I raise it? Who do I tell?
If your concerned about s situation impacting patient safety, it’s your obligation to intervene. It can be hard to know what information to share with what person. This may be a good topic of conversation within your team or with your manager. Be sure to understand the organizational policy...
The following case scenarios are adapted with permission from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), Boundaries and Sexual Abuse Case Studies (2018). These case scenarios show the judgement involved in maintaining appropriate boundaries with patients. The cases can be used as a...
I’ve read some recent information from CNO about patient sexual abuse. How many sexual abuse cases has CNO received? While most nurses do not harm their patients, CNO does respond to several cases of patient sexual abuse by nurses each year. Between 2000 and 2017, CNO received 280 complaints and...
Fact sheets Self-care Patient safety culture Vulnerable patients Warning signs Practice standards and guidelines Code of Conduct Conflict Prevention and Management Ethics Therapeutic Nurse-Client Relationship Web resources Abuse Prevention: One Is One Too Many Case scenarios Sexual...