Starting After a Stall

Authority College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC

After suspending him from his nursing job, Alex’s employer made a complaint to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses.

Almost a year passed before the college concluded its investigation and attempted to resolve the matter by asking Alex to enter into an agreement. The agreement would require him to take a series of measures to improve his nursing practice. Alex refused and, consequently, his licence was suspended. Alex believed the college’s concerns were unwarranted and that he should be given the opportunity to demonstrate his competence through an independent competency assessment. The college considered Alex’s request and decided that Alex could undergo an assessment by an approved assessor, at Alex’s cost. The college would consider the results of that assessment in deciding the appropriate resolution of the complaint. Such assessments cost between $5,000 and $7,000.

Alex contacted us with concerns regarding the college’s process. In particular, he was concerned with the amount of time it took for the investigation to conclude.

A complaint to a health professions college is to be dealt with in 120 days. If a college does not meet that timeline, the Health Professions Act requires it to provide notice of the delay and the expected date of the disposition of the matter – the first in a series of steps that must or may be taken to hasten the conclusion of the matter. Such steps also include a review by the Health Professions Review Board. The Review Board can require a college to conclude its investigation by a certain date or it can take over control of the investigation and disposition of a matter.

The college had not disposed of the complaint within the prescribed timeline and had not informed Alex of that fact or of the expected date the matter would be concluded. Subsequent obligations to notify the registrant and the Health Professions Review Board were also not met.

We discussed these obligations with the college and asked about the reasons for the delay. The college pointed us to contributing factors including staffing changes, a new IT infrastructure, educational leave and a high volume of cases. The college further explained that priority was given to cases based on an assessment of risk to the public. Alex was not working as a nurse, so there was no current risk.

Although the explanation for the delay was reasonable, it seemed Alex might have been disadvantaged by the delay and the college’s omissions with respect to delay notifications. The college agreed and, as a means of resolving the matter, it offered to pay $3000 towards Alex’s competency assessment. The college also agreed to write to Alex, explaining why they missed the timeline, and to apologize. Finally, the college initiated a review of its investigative policies and procedures to formally include the timelines and notices required by the Act. Satisfied that the college took adequate corrective action, we closed our file.

Category Work and Business
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2015
Location The Interior