Ask a lawyer: Independent practice considerations


Question: I would like to start my own business to provide foot-care services. I have taken a relevant foot care training course, but I’m curious to know if there are any other issues I must consider before launching my foot care business?

Answer: In addition to ensuring they have the relevant skills, knowledge and training to deliver the intended health care services, nurses who are self-employed must be mindful of a variety of issues including accountability, licensing requirements, business management, professional obligations and liability protection.   

Because nurses in independent practice do not generally operate under the direct control of an employer, health care institution or physician, they are directly accountable to their patients and to the public. This autonomy means increased potential liability when making independent nursing assessments and providing care. Working independently may also create additional legal responsibilities as a tenant, landlord or employer.

In some jurisdictions, nurses are required to report to or seek approval from their licensing body for their self-employed nursing practice. Whether or not a formal requirement exists, nurses are encouraged to contact their licensing body to ensure that the services provided are within the scope of nursing. Nurses should also be mindful of any professional limitations imposed by their licensing body on their independent practice (e.g. conflict of interest, advertising, solicitation of clients and endorsement of products).

It is recommended that, prior to commencing any independent practice, nurses consult with a business lawyer, accountant or tax specialist to review possible business structures, and their tax and legal implications. Options for structuring a business include a sole proprietorship, an association, a partnership, and incorporation.  

Nurses in independent practice are eligible for full CNPS benefits, the same as nurses in any other nursing role, provided they are a CNPS beneficiary and they hold a valid license to practice in the jurisdiction in which they are providing their nursing services. CNPS liability protection extends only to the individual nurse who provides professional nursing services. It does not generally extend to the nurse’s incorporated company, a partnership, the directors or shareholders of a corporation, or any employees.

Nurses who are self-employed may therefore need other types of liability protection, in addition to the professional liability protection that is offered by CNPS. For example, they may require commercial general liability insurance if the business or the nurse is named as a defendant in a claim alleging personal injury or property damage to a third party as a result of the commercial operation of the business and/or premises.

Nurses may purchase business insurance products from the commercial insurance market. The CNPS has partnered with BMS Group to offer the CNPS Business Plus program, which is designed primarily to provide different business insurance products, such as commercial general liability coverage, as a complement to the individual services offered by CNPS. BMS Group can be contacted at 1-855-318-6035.

CNPS beneficiaries in independent practice may contact the CNPS at 1-844-4MY-CNPS or 1-800-267-3390 for more information about CNPS services, professional liability and risk management issues.

 

Published January 2016

 

THIS PUBLICATION IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. NOTHING IN THIS PUBLICATION SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE FROM ANY LAWYER, CONTRIBUTOR OR THE CNPS. READERS SHOULD CONSULT LEGAL COUNSEL FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE.

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