During an Investigation

An investigation is a neutral information-gathering process. Our ability to investigate a complaint is integral to the privilege of being a self-regulated profession. Throughout the investigation, we will treat you with respect. If we decide to open an investigation, we will notify both the person who made the complaint and the nurse named in the complaint.

During an Investigation

Participating in an investigation can be stressful or uncomfortable. Knowing what to expect can help to alleviate some of the stress and prepare you for the investigation process. Generally, we will appoint an investigator to gather information regarding the issues under investigation. You will be notified of the investigator’s name and be required to co-operate with the investigator. 

If you are a nurse named in a complaint, you:

  • Have a professional obligation to cooperate in the investigation and respond to our communications promptly and honestly. As part of the process, you will be expected to provide us with a written response to the complaint, which gives you the opportunity to address the concerns under investigation.  More information about how to respond will be shared with you during the investigation process. 
  • Must submit all information we request by the deadline that is provided to you.  If it is not possible to provide a response by the deadline provided, it is your responsibility to contact us at conduct@nscn.ca to request additional time. 
  • Have a right to be represented by a union representative, legal counsel or any other individual you chose at your own cost. Our mandate is to uphold the public interest and it is for this reason that we cannot act as your representative or advisor in the professional conduct process. We recommend you contact your union representative or legal counsel for advice when you are notified of a complaint.

During the investigation, the investigator will determine whether additional investigative steps are required. Common investigative steps include:

  • obtaining additional information from the complainant
  • obtaining medical documents, or other documents related to the issues under investigation
  • conducting witness interviews

In some circumstances and only if the nurse named in the complaint agrees, the investigative process may also include:

  • A mental or physical examination of the nurse by a qualified person, where we believe that there may be an issue of incapacity
  • A review or audit of the nurse’s practice by a qualified person
  • A competence assessment to determine whether the nurse is competent to practise nursing 

It’s also important to know that in addition to the concerns under investigation, we may also investigate any other matters of potential concern that become apparent during the investigation. 

Once all of the information is gathered, the nurse named in the complaint will be provided with the information and given the opportunity to submit a response.  More information about how to respond will be shared at this stage in the process. 

Timeframe

Investigations are often complex and delays are common while we seek relevant information from third parties, such as medical documentation.  If a complaint is complicated or involves serious professional conduct issues, it may take up to a year or longer to complete the investigation. Although every effort is made to complete a thorough investigation in a timely fashion, the time it takes to complete an investigation will vary. 

If you have any questions, reach out to us at conduct@nscn.ca.   


As an organization, we uphold public trust by being accountable and transparent. One of the ways we do this is by sharing a general overview of our conduct processes in a way that everyone can understand. Due to the nature of this work however, these processes can be complex and there are ultimately a number of factors that determine the best course of action to promote the public interest. The material presented in this website is general information only, and is not legal advice. If there is any inconsistency between this information and the Nursing Act, regulations and bylaws, the legislation prevails. As a result, it is best to contact a member of our team, your legal counsel or a union representative to ensure you fully understand the information presented on our website and within the Nursing Act, regulations, and bylaws.