The Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) is the registering, counselling and disciplining body for Licensed Practical Nurses in our province.
The investigation and discipline processes, as outlined in The Licensed Practical Nurses Act 2000 (the Act was revised on November 24, 2000 and amended in 2002) are very extensive. The SALPN Council has prepared a pamphlet to advise members, employers and the public of their respective roles and responsibilities under this legislation.
Step No. 1 - Written Complaint
When a written complaint about a Licensed Practical Nurse is received in the SALPN Office, the Act requires the SALPN to initiate an investigation. However the SALPN has the authority to and may investigate any situation that comes to its knowledge.
Step No. 2 - Investigation
The complaint is immediately passed on to the Chairperson of the Counselling and Investigation Committee. The Committee is required to advise the member in question that a complaint has been received and ask for comments and a reply.
The Committee consists of an investigator and at least three practicing LPNs who have been appointed by Council but who are not on the SALPN Council. The Committee is given the responsibility of determining the validity and extent of the complaint. The Investigator conducts an initial review and takes whatever steps necessary to determine the facts of the complaint. The Committee then reviews the complaint and the investigator's report and takes any steps considered necessary.
The Committee may:
- conduct any further investigation as considered necessary and appropriate;
- determine there is no merit to the complaint;
- attempt to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the complainant and the member through the Dispute Resolution Process;
- determine whether or not the complaint or allegation should be referred to the Discipline Committee.
If the Committee refers the complaint to the Discipline Committee, a written report is submitted recommending that the Discipline Committee hear the case.
If no further action is recommended, a copy of the Committee's written report shall go to the:
LPN referred to in the complaint
Step 3 - Discipline Hearing
The Discipline Committee consists of a minimum of three persons appointed by Council, a majority of which are practicing LPNs. Elected Members of Council are not eligible for this Committee.
At least fourteen days prior to a hearing, the Executive Director sends a copy of the complaint to the member who is the subject matter of the discipline hearing with notification of the date, time and place of the hearing.
The discipline hearing is a process similar to but less formal than any other court. For example:
- the hearing may accept any evidence it considers appropriate, relevant and admissible;
- all parties involved may be represented by legal counsel at their own expense;
- testimony of witnesses is under oath;
- examination, cross-examination and re-examination is a full right of all parties involved;
- failure of the member to appear does not delay nor postpone the hearing.
Step No. 4 - Decision
Where the Discipline Committee finds a member guilty of professional incompetence or professional misconduct, it may:
- order that the member be expelled from the association and that the member's name be struck from the register;
- order that the member be suspended from the association for a specified period of time;
- order that the member be suspended from the association pending the satisfactory completion of any conditions specified in the order;
- order that the member may continue to practice under specific conditions which may include, but are not restricted to:
- not do specified types of work;
- successfully complete specified classes or courses of instruction;
- obtain medical or other treatment or counselling or both;
- having a reprimand placed on his/her file; or
- make any other order that it considers just.
Also, the Discipline Committee may make an order that the member pay to the Association (within a fixed period) a fine and/or costs of the inquiry and hearing, in a specified amount.
Copies of such orders shall be sent to the member involved and the person who made the complaint. Copies of such orders may also be sent to the member's employer and may be published in the Hand-in-Hand, the official publication of the SALPN.
Step No. 5 - Appeal
A member who has been found guilty by the Discipline Committee may appeal the decision of the Committee within 30 days of the decision to:
- the Council by serving the Executive Director with a copy of the notice of appeal; or
- to a judge of the court.
The Licensed Practical Nurses Ac,t 2000 requires employers to:
- notify the SALPN if they terminate the employment of a LPN on the basis of conduct or competence;
- ensure that persons they employ as LPNs are members who are entitled to practice;
- review the license status of their LPN employees each year to ensure their practicing licenses are renewed.
What is an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
The Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a collaborative process where the accused member agrees to have committed an infraction and is willing to work with the Counselling and Investigation Committee in order to resolve the dispute in a cooperative manner. The ADR’s primary function is not to administer discipline, but rather to educate the member to avoid future incidents of misconduct or incompetence. ADR agreements are structured on the ideals of enhancing job performance, increasing practise proficiency, and assuring future quality of care. The provisions of the ADR, in which the member agrees to, will insure that these ideals are met.
Members that decline the ADR agreement will continue through the disciplinary process and will argue their claim at a formal hearing.
What is Professional Incompetence?
Professional incompetence is a question of fact, but typically encompasses a lack of knowledge, skill or judgment or a disregard for the welfare of a member of the public served by the profession to an extent that demonstrates that the member is unfit to:
- continue in the practice of the profession; or
- provide one or more services ordinarily within his/her practice.
What is Professional Misconduct?
Professional misconduct is a question of fact, but typically encompasses any matter, conduct or thing which:
- is harmful to the best interests of the public or its members;
- tends to harm the standing of the profession;
- is a breach of the LPN Act or the bylaws; or
- is a failure to comply with an order of the counselling and investigation committee, the discipline committee or the council.
The definitions of Professional Incompetence and Professional Misconduct are taken from The Licensed Practical Nurses Act, 2000. In every case that is referred to the Discipline Committee, the Committee must determine whether or not the specific conduct referred to in the complaint fits within these definitions.