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Nurse Defence Lawyer and CNO Professional Misconduct Lawyer

Registered Nurses and Registered Practical Nurse Defence Lawyers for all of Ontario

Damien Frost & Associates LLP defends Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) who are being investigated by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO).

If you are being investigated by the College of Nurses of Ontario, you should seek legal advice from a nurse defence lawyer as soon as possible to prevent any disciplinary action or impact to your professional reputation.

Nurse Defence Lawyers for College of Nurses of Ontario Complaints 

If the College has notified you that you are the subject of a complaint or report, you should seek immediate legal assistance.

Whether there has been a complaint or report made about your practice, notice that you are being investigated, or you have been contacted by the College of Nurses of Ontario for an interview relating to your practice, Damien Frost & Associates LLP can help. Our experienced lawyers can guide you throughout the entire complaint, investigation and discipline process, and do everything possible to protect your rights and reputation. With an experienced lawyer in your corner, you will have the best chance of success.

What if I am contacted for an interview with the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Executive Director?

In some cases, the College will notify you that it has received a written complaint or information about your nursing practice and/or conduct. The College may choose to appoint an investigator to investigate your practice if it believes that you have committed an act of professional misconduct. However, in some cases, the College will provide nurses with an opportunity to meet with the Executive Director to satisfy the College of any concerns whether your future conduct will comply with the College’s expectations. This is an opportunity to convince the College not to investigate your practice or take disciplinary action against you. If you are contacted by the College and asked to attend a meeting with the Executive Director, the lawyers at Damien Frost & Associates LLP can help. We will help you prepare for the meeting and make written submissions on your behalf to explain why the College should not investigate or take any disciplinary action against you.

What does the College do about a Complaint?

If a complaint has been made about you to the College of Nurses of Ontario, you will receive a written copy of the complaint and have the opportunity to make written submissions to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (“the ICRC”) of the College.

Your written submissions will be provided to the individual or organization that filed the complaint with the College to respond if necessary. You may have an opportunity to make additional submissions if the College receives any further information from the complainant in response to your submissions.

The ICRC can make a range of decisions, from taking no action against you to referring the matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing. The ICRC’s decision can have a significant impact on your career and reputation, depending on what action is taken against you, if any. The ICRC’s decision may also be published on the College’s website and your personal profile. Any complaint should be taken seriously. You should speak to a lawyer who is experienced with the College and drafting ICRC submissions. The lawyers at Damien Frost & Associates LLP have significant experience dealing with the College and representing nurses before the ICRC. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help protect your professional reputation and do everything possible to avoid the ICRC from taking action against you or referring your matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.

What is a Report of Investigation?

In contrast to a complaint, an individual or organization may provide information to the College about your practice or about allegations of professional misconduct, without submitting a formal written complaint. When the College receives information in this manner, it can appoint investigators to investigate your practice and determine if you have committed any acts of professional misconduct.

If you are notified by the College that investigators have been appointed by the Registrar or if you receive a report of investigation from the College, you should seek immediate assistance from a lawyer. Like a complaint, you will have an opportunity to make written submissions to the ICRC, which will determine what action, if any, will be taken against you. Written submissions to the ICRC should be drafted by lawyers with experience representing nurses, in order to protect your rights and interests and take all possible steps to prevent the ICRC from taking action against you.

Similar to a complaint, the ICRC has a number of options available when determining the appropriate outcome. The ICRC can take no action, offer advice or recommendations, issue a caution, order that you take remedial educational courses, or refer your matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing. If the ICRC takes any action other than offering advice or recommendations, the decision will be posted publicly on the College’s website and on your profile. Given the risk that the ICRC can make a decision that will negatively impact on your professional reputation and ability to practice, it is crucial to seek the assistance of experienced lawyers who can help you. Do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation to discuss how we can help with your written submissions to the ICRC. 

The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee

As explained above, the ICRC will decide what action, if any, to take in response to a complaint or report of investigation. Written submissions before the ICRC are crucial, as it represents the one and only chance you have to convince the College not to take action against you, or to make the least restrictive order. In some cases, the best outcome is for the ICRC to dismiss a complaint. In other cases, the best outcome may be to keep the matter from being referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing, where your licence can be at stake.

Apart from deciding what to do with respect to complaints and reports of investigation, the ICRC also has the authority, in specific cases, to impose interim suspensions or conditions, terms and limitations on your ability to practice. If you receive notice that the ICRC is considering an interim order restricting your practice, you need to contact a lawyer immediately. In rare cases, the ICRC can impose an interim order before you have had an opportunity to respond to any complaint or report of investigation.

You should speak to an experienced lawyer for nurses, like the ones at Damien Frost & Associates LLP, about your written response to the ICRC as any material provided at this stage can be used against you before the Discipline Committee. It is important that your legal interests are protected and this early opportunity to convince the ICRC to take no action against you is one you should not undertake without legal assistance. The ICRC does not contact you directly to hear your side of the story. There is no hearing, meeting, or phone conference where you get to tell the ICRC what did or did not happen. Your only opportunity to address the complaint or report of investigation is in writing. Your written response should address both the merits of the complaint, but also the options available to the ICRC and their previous decisions. If you have a deadline to respond to the ICRC, you should speak to a lawyer today about your legal rights and how to best draft your response.

Lawyers for Matters before the Discipline Committee of the College of Nurses of Ontario

The lawyers at Damien Frost & Associates LLP regularly handle matters before the Discipline Committee of the College of Nurses of Ontario. If your matter has been referred to the Discipline Committee, you will be served with a Notice of Hearing that will outline the allegations of professional misconduct against you and will identify the prosecutor for the College. It is important that you seek legal representation before the Discipline Committee so that you have the best chance of protecting your professional licence and ability to practice. A hearing before the Discipline Committee is like a trial. If you are found guilty of professional misconduct, the Discipline Committee has broad powers to impose penalties, which can put your career at risk.

The Discipline Committee can impose penalties such as a fine, suspension or revocation of your licence, or impose terms, conditions and/or limitations on your certificate of membership. The Discipline Committee can also order a public reprimand or require that you complete remedial courses or work with an expert or mentor who will supervise your practice at your place of employment or within the community.

Hearings before the Discipline Committee are open to the public. Any decision or order against you will also be made public and posted on the College’s website, as well as your public profile. There are often requirements that you report the decision against you or penalties imposed to your current or potential employers for a period of time following your hearing.

Appeals and Judicial Review

If you are unhappy with the ICRC’s decision following a complaint, you can seek a review before the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (“HPARB”) for a reconsideration. Reviews before the HPARB are limited to whether the investigation was adequate and whether the ICRC’s decision was reasonable. Investigations do not have to be perfect or exhaustive. The College is required to obtain the information necessary for the parties to engage in the complaint process and for the ICRC to make a decision. Reasonableness is a legal term, as explained by the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov. The question is not whether the ICRC’s decision was fair or whether the parties are satisfied with the outcome. The HPARB will consider whether the ICRC’s decision fell within a range of reasonable outcomes and whether the decision-making process was coherent, rational, and justified based on the facts and applicable standards/law. If you want to seek a review before the HPARB, speak to one of our lawyers today.

If you are unhappy with the ICRC’s decision following a report of investigation, you can bring an application for Judicial Review before the Divisional Court. Unfortunately, HPARB reviews are not available for ICRC decisions on a report of investigation. Appearing before the Divisional Court for a Judicial Review is a complex and time-intensive process. There are formal rules of the Court that you must follow, which includes both timelines for filing an application for Judicial Review and the accompanying materials that must be filed, such as a factum, application record, and other supporting documents such as affidavits. In most cases, you only have the right to seek a Judicial Review within the first 30 days after the ICRC’s decision, after which you may need the court’s permission to bring an application for Judicial Review. Speak to our lawyers today about appealing or reviewing ICRC decisions following a report of investigation to understand your legal rights today.

In other cases, you may want to appeal a decision of the Discipline Committee if you are unhappy with their findings on liability or penalty. Appeals of the Discipline Committee are also heard by the Divisional Court and have similar rules and time constraints as applications for Judicial Review. Speak to one of our lawyers today to understand your legal rights and options available if you have been found guilty of acts of professional misconduct or been given a penalty by the Discipline Committee that you would like to appeal.

Get a Lawyer For Nurses!

Given the potential penalties of a discipline hearing, it is crucial to have a lawyer in your corner to defend your licence and professional reputation. You should also have a lawyer who understands the College and who can negotiate to minimize any impact on your career or reputation if you are not looking to have a contested discipline hearing. Contact our office for a free consultation to learn more about your options and how we can help you.

Members of The Criminal Lawyers Association, Toronto Lawyers Association, Ontario Bar Association 
and Advocates' Society.


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