Sexual Misconduct Standard for Nurses (Part II)

Consultation Type:

Before You Begin

Before you begin, it is important for us to recognize that we are currently in an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic and it may not be realistic for everyone to participate. Our goal is not to add more work for those who are managing the pandemic but to continue this important work for those who are able to participate during this time.


Consultation Overview

In consultation with stakeholders, we have developed a draft of the sexual misconduct standard for nurses. The draft reflects current best practice, aligns with other jurisdictions and includes the diverse perspectives from stakeholders captured in our initial consultation phase.

This is now an opportunity for stakeholders to review and provide feedback on the following:  

  • Draft sexual misconduct standard for nurses that outlines the legal and professional expectations of nurses in the nurse-client relationship in Nova Scotia. 
  • Draft sexual misconduct policy that outlines our position on the disciplinary outcome when the Professional Conduct Committee is considering allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • Revisions to the existing NSCN By-Law Part VII, Section 28: Code of Ethics, Standards and Competencies that establishes the inclusion of the sexual misconduct standard as a standard of practice for each of the nursing designations.

To provide feedback on the draft standard, policy and/or by-law, complete our brief survey below.

Background on the Initiative

In January 2020, we began an initiative to develop a sexual misconduct standard for all nurses.

Public safety is our top priority and we are responsible for responding to complaints and reports that may have caused harm to clients. In this role, we have decided to develop the sexual misconduct standard:

  • To meet our mandate of public safety and help to prevent serious harm from occurring by having clearly defined expectations for nurses
  • To reflect the meaningful discussion within our communities and the public’s zero tolerance attitude about sexual misconduct
  • To empower the public, nurses and others to report sexual misconduct with the confidence in knowing that we take this matter very seriously

Sexual misconduct accounts for 1% of all disciplinary decisions from the past 10 years. Although this number is small, we recognize that sexual misconduct results in great harm to clients and this standard is an added measure to continue upholding public safety.

Click here for more information on this initiative.

Overview of Initial Consultation

The draft sexual misconduct standard available for consultation today was developed in part thanks to the expertise and guidance from the public, nurses, subject-matter-experts and others who participated in our initial consultation in February and March of 2020.

During this time, we launched a consultation to gather feedback from stakeholders to help inform the development of the draft standard. Over 220 individuals participated in an online survey. In addition, we also met with employers, subject-matter-experts, schools of nursing and the unions who represent nurses in Nova Scotia. This enabled us to supplement the feedback collected in our online space.

Overall, it is evident through the initial consultation that stakeholders support the initiative and their feedback was consistent across all touchpoints. Stakeholders suggested that we consider the following elements as part of the development of the standard:

  • Definitions
  • Consent
  • Expectations
  • Duty of care
  • Duty to report
  • Social media use
  • Trauma-informed approach
  • Capacity and vulnerable clients
  • Therapeutic nurse-client relationship
  • Interdisciplinary and client-to-nurse misconduct

We incorporated feedback into the draft standard where possible. At times, we were not able to incorporate all of the feedback for a number of reasons, including:

  • Fell outside the scope of the standard 
  • Fell outside the scope of the project

We will release a comprehensive consultation summary inclusive of this consultation during the summer of 2020.

Additional Support Tools

In addition to the sexual misconduct standard, we are also working on developing a practice guideline and other practice support tools to help the public, nurses and others in understanding the expectations outlined in the standard. These tools will include examples, details, suggestions to consider, and more. If there is something that you do not see in the draft standard that you think is missing, please note it in the survey. It may appear in our future guideline or in other support tools. 

Consultation Next Steps

The consultation ends on May 10. At this time, we will review, consider and incorporate where appropriate stakeholder feedback and prepare a final version for the NSCN Board to approve.  We anticipate releasing the sexual misconduct standard in June 2020.

For More Information

Visit this initiative’s homepage or reach out to us at

Supporting Materials

The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta have a standard on the Protection of Patients from Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct. The College of Nurses of Ontario have also developed tools on sexual abuse. Most recently, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia developed a draft of Professional Standard and Guidelines Regarding Sexual Misconduct by Physicians.

    Public Safety Notice

    Our public consultation is to collect feedback on the draft standard, policy and by-law. It is not a forum to submit concerns or complaints about a nurse’s practice. Please contact us immediately at if you need to talk with a member of our team.

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